Sunday, October 20, 2002


Harrison Birtwistle: The Woman and the Hare, Duets for Storab [and other songs]; Brabbin & Nash Ensemble w. McFadden, Watson etc. (Black Box, £12.99)

Yeah, yeah.... I know. I bash on about Birtwistle too much. And some of you still think that he's obscure, overrated and generally squeaky-gateish. The thing is, you're wrong. And this excellent collection of first recordings shows why. The Woman and the Hare lasts only 15 minutes and squeezes in more musical freshness and ideas than most composers will come up with in a lifetime. Earlier in NewFrontEars I reviewed a collection of Birtwistle's ensemble pieces, most of them instrumental [see below, somewhere or other]. This set complements them perfectly. An ideal instroduction to the music that emerges from the man. Text and sonority are intertwined in perfect harmony, and for once you get a glimpse of their musical origins -- so often carefully disguised in Birtwistle's arcadian universe. A joy. Honest. Buy one and stop me...

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