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Here are three contrasting pieces from one of the most skilled and individual of modern British composers. Full of memories of and allusions to other music, Benedict Mason’s 1987 String Quartet is equally rich in its own newly imagined combinations. ‘Conceived as a travelogue in five parts’, it impresses more as a mosaic of tiny and extraordinarily diverse sections. In the wrong hands the approach could lead to dire results, but the delicacy and insubstantiality of Mason’s inventions give them a genuine if intangible beauty; this is playful but never foolish music. Throughout, as in the sparky 1989 brass concerto, Mason shows a fine sense of instrumental capabilities: everything works well. In spirit, something of Walton’s élanRead more combines with an Ivesian feeling for adventure and a neo-Romantic glamour (though without the clichés). The result has a wonderful sense of the comic. With their insect noises, onomatopoeia, wordplay and Lewis Carroll references, the songs (to Mason’s own texts) show him indulging his cultural-collector’s instincts to the full. Too many in-jokes, perhaps? Christine Whittlesey is nevertheless a vivid interpreter. The playing of all three ensembles is splendid, the sound generally excellent.
Quartet for Strings no 1by Benedict Mason Performer:
David Alberman (Violin),
Irvine Arditti (Violin),
Garth Knox (Viola),
Rohan de Saram (Cello)
Arditti String Quartet
Period: 20th Century Written: 1987; England Date of Recording: 06/1993 Venue: Saarländischer Rundfunk, Saarbrucken Length: 36 Minutes 10 Secs.
Concerto for Horn and Trombone "Double"by Benedict Mason Performer:
Michael Thompson (French Horn),
David Purser (Trombone)
Period: 20th Century Written: 1989; England Date of Recording: 03/22/1992 Venue: All Saints' Church, Petersham Length: 19 Minutes 18 Secs.
Self-Referential Songs and Realistic Virelaisby Benedict Mason Performer:
Christine Whittlesey (Soprano)
Period: 20th Century Written: 1990; England Date of Recording: 12/09/1990 Venue: Live Alte Oper, Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany Length: 17 Minutes 57 Secs. Language: English
String Quartet No. 1: I. Part 1. Perambulation
String Quartet No. 1: II. Part 2. Fast Travelling
String Quartet No. 1: III. Part 3. Observing - Standing Still
String Quartet No. 1: IV. Part 4. Observing - Travelling Fast
String Quartet No. 1: V. Part 5. Returning
Double Concerto: I. Determined
Double Concerto: II. Scherzo Notturno, Trio Diurno, Scherzo Reprise
Double Concerto: III. Molto Adagio
Double Concerto: IV. Determined
Self-Referential Songs and Realistic Virelais: I. Partial Baffles
Self-Referential Songs and Realistic Virelais: II. Ah... Never On the Drumhead
Self-Referential Songs and Realistic Virelais: III. Whiffling Seesaw Rhythms
Self-Referential Songs and Realistic Virelais: IV. Metallurgical Rules
Self-Referential Songs and Realistic Virelais: V. Aahk Pit-It-It Skaaak!
Self-Referential Songs and Realistic Virelais: VI. Temporary Deviations
Self-Referential Songs and Realistic Virelais: VII. del Penicille Qui C'Est Escrit
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