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Davies & MacRae; Hayes, Greenwood and Fujikura
London Sinfonietta Label Jerwood Series

Jerwood 1 Davies & MacRae
1 Tansy Davies neon
2 Stuart MacRae Interact

London Sinfonietta/David Porcelijn & HK Gruber - conductors
John Wallace - trumpet

Jerwood 2: Hayes, Greenwood & Fujikura
1 Morgan Hayes Dark Room
2 Jonny Greenwood smear
3 Dai Fujikura Fifth Station

London Sinfonietta/Martyn Brabbins
Mark van de Wiel - clarinet
Louise Hopkins - cello
Valérie Hartmann-Claverie & Bruno Perrault - ondes martenot

Each £5.99 + P&P

Having been an early devotee of London Sinfonietta in the late '60s, and one of the first to suggest a Friends Organisation, it is a pleasure to welcome the next logical step, an own label to make selected performances available to those who can't get to London concerts.

Being short in running time, they have the advantage of generous space inside the jewel boxes for fully informative booklets, and these are beautifully presented, with all necessary background, and notes to introduce the works selected.

The young composers represent very differenc stances in the pluralistic contemporary music scene.

Davies has been seeking a rapprochment between the avant garde and rock, and this attractive piece dips a foot into both camps. MacRae is a notable presence on the Scottish scene and this new concerto, following a successful one for violin heard in the Proms, explores the potential of the trumpet (the soloist until recently LS's chief turmpeter) supported by a no less virtuosic ensemble.

Martin Brabbin's disc juxtaposes very different idioms. Hayes' mini-clarinet concerto is of a modernist manner not easy to empathise with, and its material becomes 'more opaque' after the opening. But you can't please everyone, and LS in their concert programmes juxtapose composers who co-exist professionally but represent differing aesthetics. Greenood's piece strikes a welcome blow for the unfairly relegated Ondes-Martenot, a pioneering electronic instrument and one of the most expressive despite its origins in the '20s. For Greenwood it is a deserving pure instrument, pitch, colour and dynamics controlled with subtlety by means of 'a button, a string and a keyboard'.

Dai Fujikura has had a meteoric rise (and a commission for the forthcoming Proms) and it has been a pleasure to follow his progress from early days. An opponent of improvisation, he is given to off-beat, facetious programme notes, but I warmed to how in this piece here, which has players distributed all over the concert hall, he prides himself on two critics who disagreed as from their seats; one could hear the strings, but scarecely the harp; the other 'could only hear the harp'! Fujikura took that as a gratifying compliment to his design, and it echoes my frequent comment about seating position influencing listening experiences and critical responses.

Both worth having; think of it as an investment in around 2 hours of listening time, because anyone who purchases this music will want to listen to the pieces twice; not often possible in the concert hall!


© Peter Grahame Woolf