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Errollyn Wallen: The Girl In My Alphabet

Release Date: 06/04/2002 
Label:  Avie   Catalog #: 6   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Errollyn Wallen
Performer:  Matt SharpDominic HarlanPatricia RozarioDavid le Page,   ... 
Conductor:  Philip Headlem
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Continuum EnsembleEnsemble X
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 10 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

When people say they love music that is "sincere", it is very likely that they are talking about the sort of thing that Errollyn Wallen writes. Her solo disc is full of tunes, catchy rhythmic ideas, and a notion that "everything" is music. This is a composer who has a distinctly personal voice--uncluttered with artificial "hipness" or academic agendas--and a powerful voice it is.

The disc opens with Dervish, a moody piece for cello and piano that's warmly executed by Matthew Sharp and Dominic Harlan. They take the music seriously, tapping its many moods with sophistication and flowing ease. The cycle of five songs for soprano and string quartet, titled Are You Worried about the Rising Cost
Read more of Funerals?, with poems by the composer, runs the gamut of influences from traditional African to Michael Nyman, and it's a sharp, tuneful, well-heard piece. Soprano Patricia Rozario assays her challenging part effortlessly.

Less successful is the piece for toy piano titled Louis' Loops, though it's wonderfully executed by Margaret Leng Tan (who Wallen calls "New York's Kinky Dinky Diva"). It has nice sections, especially the incorporated baroque dances, but it's simply too busy for the instrument. The same is true of the disc's final opus, which leans a little too heavily on a gag: the whole thing swirls to a quotation of the song "Girl from Ipanema"--cute but not enough payoff, despite the interesting piano textures Wallen creates.

Horseplay, a multi-movement work for ensemble, is the disc's high point. It is an energetic, ebullient flight of fancy, wonderfully scored. Philip Headlam conducts the Continuum Ensemble with precision but also with perfect willingness to be a little rough around the edges when necessary. In Our Lifetime, a piece for baritone and tape, is a tribute to Nelson Mandela that beautifully and skillfully incorporates some South African music. This is the sort of release that a young composer dreams about--a thoughtful sample of her work, well recorded and performed, and attractively packaged.
--Daniel Felsenfeld, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

Dervish by Errollyn Wallen
Performer:  Matt Sharp (Cello), Dominic Harlan (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2001 
Date of Recording: 10/2001 
Venue:  Potton Hall, Suffolk, England 
Length: 7 Minutes 24 Secs. 
Are You Worried About the Rising Cost of Funerals? by Errollyn Wallen
Performer:  Patricia Rozario (Soprano), David le Page (Violin), Kirsty Staines (Violin),
David Aspin (Viola), Joseph Spooner (Cello)
Conductor:  Philip Headlem
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Continuum Ensemble,  Ensemble X
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1994 
Date of Recording: 10/2001 
Venue:  Potton Hall, Suffolk, England 
Length: 18 Minutes 24 Secs. 
Language: English 
Louis' Loops by Errollyn Wallen
Performer:  Margaret Leng Tan (Toy Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1999 
Date of Recording: 03/25/1999 
Venue:  Live  Cowell Theater, San Francisco, CA 
Length: 4 Minutes 1 Secs. 
Horseplay by Errollyn Wallen
Conductor:  Philip Headlem
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Continuum Ensemble
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1998 
Date of Recording: 10/2001 
Venue:  Potton Hall, Suffolk, England 
Length: 21 Minutes 55 Secs. 
In Our Lifetime by Errollyn Wallen
Performer:  Mike Henry (Baritone)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1990 
Date of Recording: 03/1990 
Venue:  Wallen Music and Production, London 
Length: 7 Minutes 40 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: This work is scored for Baritone and pre-recorded tape. It also includes Xhosa text. 
The Girl in my Alphabet by Errollyn Wallen
Performer:  Douglas Finch (Piano), Errollyn Wallen (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1990 
Date of Recording: 10/2001 
Venue:  Potton Hall, Suffolk, England 
Length: 10 Minutes 31 Secs. 

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