- Audio CD (28 July 2008)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Format: CD
- Label: Wergo
- ASIN: B0014ID77A
- Other Editions: Audio CD
- Average Customer Review: 1 customer review
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 221,921 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
Rebecca Saunders - Stirrings Still (musikFabrik)
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Audio CD, CD, 28 Jul 2008
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Rebecca Saunders - Stirrings Still, CD
booklet writer: Struck-Schloen, Michael
composer: Saunders, Rebecca
orchestra/ensemble: Ensemble musikFabrik
"What we call silence is for me comparable to a dense knot of noise, frequencies, and sounds," says Rebecca Saunders. "From this surface of apparent silence I try to draw out and mould sound and colour." Samuel Beckett's works have become very important for the composer. Therein lies, perhaps, a certain parallel to Rebecca Saunders's more recent music: in the increasing sparseness of a language that gradually shuts out the inessential and ornamental.
"Stirrings Still" is a music that seems to be inside and outside at once - both mobile sound sculpture and a journey beneath the surface of the sound waves, into the interior of a sound that suddenly seems more distant yet more intense. "Such and much more such the hubbub in his mind so-called till nothing left from deep within but only ever fainter oh to end," Beckett writes at the end of his "Stirrings Still". "Oh all to end." "We love to contemplate blue, not because it advances to us, but because it draws us after it.". (Johann Wolfgang Goethe: Farbenlehre)"Blue is darkness made visible ? The darkness comes in with the tide." (Derek Jarman: Chroma - A book of colour)"Vermilion is a red with a feeling of sharpness, like a glowing steel which can be cooled by water. Vermilion is quenched by blue, for it can support no mixture with a cold colour. The glow of red is within itself.." (Wassily Kandinsky: Concerning the Spiritual in Art)
- 1. blaauw: solo for double-bell trumpet
- 2. Blue and Gray for two double basses
- 3. Duo for violin and piano
- 4. vermilion for clarinet in Bb, electric guitar and violoncello
- 5. Stirrings Still for five players: alto flute, oboe, clarinet in A, piano and crotales
London-born, Berlin-based Rebecca Saunders, who turned 40 last year, is a composer enraptured by sound in the moment and manner of its creation. She's like a poet obsessed not just with the resonances of vowels or the textures of fricatives, but also with the strange in-betweens, where the strangeness of the sound blurs all possibility of conventional meaning. Saunders's works are trajectories of exploration, opening on this CD with Blaauw for double-bell trumpet (played into the resonating chamber of an open grand piano with the sustaining pedal down) and Bl ue and Gray for two double basses, extending gradually to the even stranger, almost unearthly five-instrument world of Stirrings still . Stirring stuff indeed. --Michael Dervan, Irish Times, 8 August 2008
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Perhaps the best starting point here for fans of contemporary music is "Stirrings Still" for alto flute, oboe, clarinet, piano and crotales (2006). It is elegaic in tone, slow-tempoed, at low dynamic and with microtonal inflections. I find it extremely reminiscent of Luigi Nono's "A Pierre", with something of Bent Sorensen's 1990s works in it too. In "Duo" for violin and piano (1996/99), the violin plays at low dynamic and at the top of its range. Initially the piano violently intrudes from time to time with a loud chord. Eventually the piano part settles into a repeated motif much like a music box, one of Saunders' favourite sonorities (she has incorporated real music boxes into another work).
Then we come to three works with colour titles: Saunders has written a large number of pieces named after particular shades, and not since Messiaen has there been such a synesthetic composer. That said, you might not picture the same colours in your mind that the composer does, but certainly Saunders' music does have a rich timbral variety and luminous quality to it.
"Blue and Gray" for two double basses (2006) may be my favourite of these. Though it is written for two identical instruments, the contrast between them is heightened to the point where Saunders' colour-inspired title is quite fitting. A competing recording can be found in a Neos box set of the Musica Viva 2008 festival, which can boast SACD sound, but I very much prefer this one by Michael Tiepold and Corin Long.
"blaauw" for double-bell trumpet (2004) not only means "blue", but it was written for the Dutch virtuoso Marcus Blaauw who has premiered several pieces for this curious variant of the instrument that sounds like two trumpets playing at once and allows one to play quarter tones.
"vermilion" for clarinet in Bb, electric guitar and violoncello (2003) consists of portentuous silences broken by feedback-drenched guitar, an unusually harsh treatment of this woodwind instrument, and sull'arco cello that feels like it mediates between the two.
If you are not yet familiar with Saunders, it might be better to track down an old Kairos disc for an introduction. However, the works here are very attractive and I think that Saunders is one of the most interesting composers working at the moment.