The concept is refreshing for those who are sick of [having to answer for] the stuffy, elitist image of contemporary music. Twenty friendly chamber pieces for strings and piano, short enough for easy absorption (the longest, Elena Firsova’s 'Frozen Time', comes in at six and a half minutes – where normally such an ominous title would lead you to expect several tiring hours of avant garde conceptualisation in the concert hall…). And, most importantly, all written specifically to be accessible to audiences and performers outside that mythical circle of virtuosi we hear so much about. In short, you can sit down and play the music without need of apprehension, which inclusivity makes the whole project both realistic and big and clever.
Most impressive of all is that this assembly of living composers should write so accessibly without falling into the kind of nineteenth-century default sound which is, to many people, 'classical music'; points for not playing it safe. Here, the squeaks and leaps and unexpected turns of harmony make the music fun rather than difficult, and each miniature evokes a different cameo (stand-outs include the title piece, Piers Hellawell’s percussive, imaginative 'a white room'; Rory Boyle’s lyrical carol reworking 'Campani in aria'; and Edward Rushton’s rollicking 'Combat in the Year Thousand'). Award for the best sleevenotes, however, goes unequivocally to Gerald Barry, whose explanation reads simply:
Francis Bacon died on the 9th of April 1626 in Highgate, after stuffing a chicken with snow.
Scores and sound clips of the commissioned pieces are available at http://www.chambermusic2000.com.
8Kate Dornan's Score