LIZ JOHNSON (b.1964): String Quartets No. 1 “Images of Trees”, No. 2 “For Elliott”, No. 3 “Intricate Web” and No. 4 for Soprano and String Quartet “Sky-Burial”, Tide Purl for String Quartet, Fantasia Forty-something for String Quartet, Clarinet Quintet “Sea Change”,Towards the Sea for Clarinet, Viola and Cello, Reflections of an Eccentric English Artist for Solo Cello, Sleep Close for Soprano and Piano, 4 Jo Shapcott Settings for Solo Soprano.
Catalogue Number: 06S084
Reference: msv 77206
Description: This pleasingly varied 'composer portrait' presents a composer of great expressive and emotional range, whose music remains thoroughly accessible across a wide diversity of idioms. There is something of the 'English eccentric' about this program, not in any derogatory sense whatsoever, but English landscape, language and distinctive character pervade the whole exercise. In all the works, a more or less apparent tonal basis underpins the vocabulary - very overt in the large Cello Suite, the Fantasia and the 2nd Quartet, richly late-romantic in the 4th, rather more obscured and decorated with alternative techniques in the Clarinet Quintet and the vocal pyrotechnics of the flamboyantly surreal Jo Shapcott Settings. The Cello Suite celebrates the life and work of artist Ben Hartley, a colorful eccentric and late Catholic convert, whose faux-rustic paintings (reproduced in the booklet) are depicted in folk-like music combined with plainchant. The Quintet employs five members of the clarinet family using a range of extended techniques, and various noisemakers are played by the quartet to add to the evocative sound-imagery reflecting passages from the poem Crag Inspector by David Hart. Sky-Burial, a quartet with voice, is a profound and haunting poem about death, represented as a journey through an hallucinatory landscape and setting a text by Kathleen Jamie. 2 CDs. Fitzwilliam String Quartet, Ronald Woodley (clarinet), Loré Lixenberg (soprano).