JOE CUTLER (b.1968): Elsewhereness (Royal Birmingham Conservatory Symphony Orchestra; Mirga Gražinytè-Tyla, McNulty for Piano Trio (Fidelio Trio), For Frederic Lagnau for Oboe, Saxophone, Piano, Double Bass and Percussion (Workers Union Ensemble), Akhmatova Fragments for Soprano and String Ensemble (Sarah Leonard [soprano], Project Instrumental; Daniele Rosina], Sikorski B for Saxophone, Percussion and Piano (Nozferatu), Karembeu’s Guide to the Complete Defensive Midfielder for Saxophone and Ensemble (Iain Bellamy [sax], Emulsion Sinfonietta).
Catalogue Number: 11U071
Description: Cutler's music addresses serious, thought-provoking subjects - but oh! it's so much fun to listen to while it does it. His always-approachable idiom brings together styles from all over the place, and somehow makes them peacefully not just coexist, but collaborate. Elsewhereness was written for the opening of the new Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, and builds an edifice out of post-minimalist repeated blocks, at first challenged by the percussive cross-rhythms of a construction site, then developing into a fine piece of propulsive minimalism, before being demolished, like the old Adrian Boult Hall, the chords still standing like isolated walls and pillars, while a sped-up film of nature taking over the ruin plays in between. Slipping popular culture references in where they ostensibly don't belong is fun (witness the past couple of decades of Records International catalogues), and this is part of the offbeat charm of Cutler's pieces. Christian Karembeu is a French football player, and his piece is more like a zany piece of free jazz than anything else. McNulty is a flawed and ethically questionable character in the gritty HBO crime drama 'The Wire'; he is celebrated in a vigorous, off-kilter Irish jig in the form of a piece of post-minimalism. Two very different fellow minimalists receive tributes; Sikorski, in a meditative piece with an utterly crazy climax; and Frederic Lagnau, a bouncy French orthodox-minimalist of the Steve Reich type; he gets a series of little episodes, more varied than his own music, with something of a Nymanesque obsessiveness. That trait is also present in the instrumental first movement of Akhmatova Fragments; thereafter the repeated gestures retreat into an accompanying rôle to simply gorgeous lines of melody (aside from 'We're all drunkards here', which is accompanied by a kind of jazz bass figure), in this serious, moving and emotionally charged mini-cycle.