AUGUSTA READ THOMAS (b.1964): Helix Spirals for String Quartet (Parker Quartet), Selene (Moon Chariot Rituals) for Percussion Quartet and String Quartet (Third Coast Percussion, Spektral Quartet), Capricious Toccata for Solo Violin (Nathan Giem), Of Being Is A Bird for Soprano and Ensemble (Claire Booth [soprano], Auora Orchestra; Nicholas Collon. Texts included), Caprice and Rush for Solo Violin (Nathan Cole), Love Twitters for Piano (Nicola Melville).
Catalogue Number: 04R078
Reference: NI 6323
Description: Thomas' music frequently invites descriptions like 'airborne', 'vivacious' and 'energetic', and these are apt descriptions of all the works here, of which the main three are very recent. The swirling shapes and restless combinations of motifs of the substantial three-movement quartet are inspired by the spirals of DNA, and the hyperactively hocketing pizzicato textures gradually accumulating bowed strands of sound as the piece progresses suggest a journey through an animated representation of a DNA helix from the component molecular level out until the whole strand becomes visible. Selene adds percussion to the strings to form an unusual ensemble with great timbral variety and the capacity for rhythmic incisiveness and precision. The work is balletic, with a sense of continuous forward motion; again there is the feeling of close-up and far-away perspectives, with serene episodes suggesting the calm of the moon in the night sky, while the rhythmic energy reminds us that the moon's chariot is actually covering vast distances at breakneck speed. The soaring, sweeping lines of the Emily Dickinson settings, in Thomas' customary crystalline, light-infused sonorities celebrate the effortless weightlessness of birds and the dynamic patterns that flocks create in flight.