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Attwood, Bailie, Causton / Kok, Bell, London Sinfonietta


Release Date: 10/28/2008 
Label:  London Sinfonietta   Catalog #: 12008   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  William AttwoodJoanna BailieRichard Causton
Performer:  Sebastian Bell
Conductor:  Nicholas Kok
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Sinfonietta
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews



ATTWOOD Iwwer Tiermen. 1 BAILLIE 5 Famous Adagios. 2 CAUSTON Sleep. 3 Phoenix 4 Nicholas Kok, cond; 1 Sebastian Bell (fl); 3 London Sinfonietta LONDON Read more SINFONIETTA 12008 (41:25) Live: London 1/27/2005; 1 5/13/2006; 2 11/8/2006 3,4


Back in Fanfare 30:6 I reviewed, positively, a previous release in the Sinfonietta series that comprised music by Tansy Davies and Stuart Macrae. I ended the review by asking for more. Well, more there is, and what a pleasure it is to report that the current release (the fourth in the Sinfonietta’s series) is every inch as stimulating and as beautifully produced as the last. There is an added poignancy to this most recent offering, however: the solo flutist of the Sinfonietta and the featured soloist here, Sebastian Bell, died in September 2007, aged 65. The first thing one sees after one has turned the front cover of the accompanying booklet to this disc is a full-page photo of him. I remember vividly Bell’s sterling contributions to many Sinfonietta concerts I have personally heard on London’s South Bank. He will be missed.


William Attwood (b. 1972) was born in London. He studied composition with Simon Bainbridge (Guildhall) and Theo Brandmüller (Musikhochschule Saarbrücken). Iwwer Tiermen (“Above Towers”) was premiered by the London Sinfonietta in 2005. The generating principle here comes from the poetry of Jean-Louis Kieffer, who hails from Lorraine, France. The dialect used is Mosel-Fränkisch. Attwood seems to be attracted to the language because of its abrupt turns of expression and its overall impression of sadness. His piece seems to attempt to mirror this, including as it does moments of the utmost, held-breath tenderness (particularly around half way through its 12-minute duration), as well as moments of sever austerity.


Joanna Baillie, another Londoner, was born in 1973. She relocated to Brussels in 2001, where she continues to live. She was taught by Richard Barrett, and also spent some time studying electronic music at the Koninklijk Conservatorium (Holland). Her Five Famous Adagios is based on the idea of sonic exploration (something that apparently manifested to early critics as a sort of Romanticism). The score was originally electronically realized in 2002, before being transcribed for string quartet in 2006, a starting point that I for one would argue is readily audible in the composer’s fascination with timbral transformations of sounds. The work is highly restrained in nature, almost as if we are hearing the sounds through a gauze. The five adagios Baillie uses as bases for her movements are all from the music of Bach, although they emerge as highly removed. The whispered nature of Baillie’s expression is highly memorable.


The third London-born composer is Richard Causton (b. 1971). Sleep , of 2006, is a highly expressive cantilena for solo flute, deliciously and atmospherically rendered here by Sebastian Bell, inspired by George Seferis’s poem, “Mythistorema.” Causton’s Phoenix (2006) is a substantive statement cast in two roughly equidurational movements and scored for piano, flute, clarinet, violin, and cello. Causton plays with the contrast of instruments capable of a truly sustained line (all instruments except for the piano) against the piano’s attempts to sustain notes through rapid repetitions; but this is by no means his only means of expression. The last movement is almost ghostly in its sonorities and certainly gives the impression of searching before the final measures—influenced by the idea of the phoenix’s abilities to rebirth itself—effect some sort of hope. Phoenix deservedly won a Royal Philharmonic Society award for its composer. Causton’s works make the deepest impact of the three composers featured here.


FANFARE: Colin Clarke
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Works on This Recording

1.
Iwwer Tiermen by William Attwood
Performer:  Sebastian Bell (Flute)
Conductor:  Nicholas Kok
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Sinfonietta
Period: 20th Century 
2.
Five Famous Adagios by Joanna Bailie
Performer:  Sebastian Bell (Flute)
Conductor:  Nicholas Kok
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Sinfonietta
Period: 20th Century 
3.
Phoenix Sleep by Richard Causton
Performer:  Sebastian Bell (Flute)
Conductor:  Nicholas Kok
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Sinfonietta
Period: 20th Century 

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