TIM SOUSTER (1943-1994): Hambledon Hill, MICHAEL ALCORN (b.1962): The Old Woman of Beare, GAVIN BRYARS (b.1943): The Sinking of the Titanic, JAMES MACMILLAN (b.1959): Memento, STEPHEN MONTAGUE (b.1943): String Quartet No. 1 "In Memoriam...".
Catalogue Number: 10J128
Reference: SIGCD 088
Description: Hambledon Hill is a prehistoric site in England with a circular, concentric structure. Souster uses this basic shape for the layout of players and loudspeakers, and also to some extent suggests it through overlapping, circling gliding tones. Harsh dissonances and anchoring electronic pulsating punctuation abound, characteristic of the composer. Alcorn's work is based on a 9th century Irish poem, incorporated into the texture alongside sophisticated electronic effects. Some sections of the quartet music suggest traditional Irish music; others are more experimental in texture and overlain with dense electronic sound. Bryars' revised version of his 1972 piece states in slow progression the hymn tune played as the Titanic sank, while other material is superimposed on it; a sombre meditation. In this it is akin to the MacMillan, a brief in memoriam work with a keening, lamenting quality. The final version of Montague's much-revised quartet is another sort of memorial (for two fellow composers); a more visceral, dynamic one. Making much more of the expiring breath noise sounds than earlier versions, and with the electronic material more comprehensive and fully integrated than in previous incarnations, the piece moves between urgent telegraphic pulsation and rich but ghostly full-textured streams of sound, with a central episode, the least revised in terms of material, a vigorous and propulsive dance-like passage in modal scales, strongly reminiscent of the composer's brilliant From the White Edge of Phrygia. The Smith Quartet.