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This review is from: A European Odyssey (Audio CD)
This 3-disc box from Nimbus is the outcome of an enormous and valuable European project, one which commenced back in 2009. The idea was to ask composers to come up with works for unusual chamber ensembles for which `classic' models exist -
e.g. piano, trumpet and string quintet, a combination for which Saint-Saens wrote a gorgeous piece, which appears on disc 1. Incidentally, it's a serious omission that the trumpet player has not been credited, because his contribution here, as in the other pieces he plays in, is absolutely outstanding, fabulous playing, and his name is Huw Morgan (to be fair, he is credited for other tracks).
So disc 1 contains the 'models', while discs 2 and 3 give us 17 of the 37 pieces which resulted, and it makes fascinating listening, if only to underline the huge variety of stylistic personae available to modern composers. Some amount almost to `easy listening', notably Foglie d'Autunno ('Autumn Leaves) on Disc 3, which does stand out rather uncomfortably!
There are some obvious highlights, such as the Bartok arrangements on Disc 2 by Ann-Maria Avram, which, though not 'original' compositions, are thrilling re-creations of these fabulous pieces. Another work that I really enjoyed was Skelbred's 'Echoes of Time Lost', richly but delicately scored for a diverse ensemble of flute, oboe, cor anglais, clarinet, bassoon, trumpet, violin, viola, 'cello, double bass and piano. Subtle hints of Norwegian 'fiddle' music, against a shifting background - an impression of restlessness yet immobility.
And, as in the review by Wantage, I enjoyed the sea-inspired textures and movement of 'Marritimo' by the Serbian Ivan Bozicevic.
'Odyssey' is a good title for these wonderful discs; travel and explore!