REBECCA SAUNDERS (b.1967): Still for Violin and Orchestra, Alba for Trumpet and Orchestra, Aether for 2 Bass Clarinets (Carl Rosman, Richard Haynes).
Catalogue Number: 11W063
Label: BR Klassik
Description: A composer not afraid to be unrepentantly avant garde, Saunders is arguably at her best in large ensemble works, where her complex, churning textures can be given free rein. These two powerful, viscerally impactful concerti - the outer works of a triptych - both deal with the absence of something - in the one case motion, in the other, colour - and both are intimately related to bleakly enigmatic poems by Samuel Beckett. The key to Still, which is paradoxically full of teeming, hectic motion, is the composer’s suggestion that it is like a gigantic mobile, constantly in motion but unable to change shape: "manifest complex protraction of the one single thing" as she puts it. Its fragments, shards and gestures clamour for attention, while melding into one vast, immovable object. Alba, the whitest white, "ardent, the colour of fury", confronts the audience with terrifying implacability; an infinite boneyard, or a blasted desert of sun-tormented sand, as merciless as the chilling Beckett poem that accompanies it: "so that there is no sun and no unveiling / and no host / only I and then the sheet / and bulk dead". Æther, for bass clarinet duo, refers to the mysterious and invisible omnipresent medium proposed by philosophy and science but never directly observed. The dedication to the present soloists "with my thanks for the wonderful experimental sound sessions" tells you what you need to know about the world of extended techniques that the mysterious, slow-moving piece inhabits. Carolin Widmann (violin), Marco Blaauw (trumpet), Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra; Ilan Volkov, Peter Eötvös (Alba).