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New Noise, Powerplant & The Smith Quartet

Gaudeamus Interpreters Competition
Rotterdam Conservatory, 2001 - Duos and Ensembles: None of the competing duos or ensembles reached the finals, and their members must have wondered whether they had entered the wrong competition - - We were impressed by New Noise, especially in Birtwistle's Pulse Sampler, for which percussionist Joby Burgess knelt on a prayer mat before his oboist partner Janey Miller.

Frozen River Flows

Nigel Osborne: Journey to the End of the Night
Adrian Lee: Peace for Vayu
Howard Skempton: Random Girl
Iannis Xenakis: Dmaathen
Simon Holt: Sphinx
Dobrinka Tabakova: Frozen River Flows
George Nicholson: Seven Bagatelles

Oboe Classics CC2021 [TT 68 mins]

A fine compendium of classics (Xenakis) and commissioned pieces of stunning variety composed for this enterprising duo, which has gone from strength to strength since we first heard them a decade ago.

See fuller details with sound samples at http://www.oboeclassics.com/FrozenRiver.htm

The Prokofievs - Three Generations Blackheath Halls, 2003

- - A last word for the youngest Prokofiev, grandson Gabriel Prokofiev, whose very new String Quartet was premiered by the excellent, locally based, up-coming Elysian String Quartet.- - Gabriel Prokofiev came fresh and unprejudiced from working in electro-acoustics, finding a distinctive voice which (to my ears, but not consciously his) built upon some of the original brusqueness and spare textures of Stravinsky's regrettably sole foray with his three, all too brief, pieces. It was arresting music which held attention easily in this august company; Gabriel Prokofiev and the Elysians should continue developing it towards a regular place in their repertoire.

Powerplant Import/Export [CD + DVD Nonclassical; 2010]

We have followed Joby Burgess and his partner Janey Miller for a decade and now here is a remarkable CD + DVD which is a combined project involving Gabriel Prokofiev, Joby Burgess, video artist Kathy Hinde and a host of their friends.

The main tracks explore the percussive and sonic potentials of materials from industry, oil drums, plastic bags, Fanta bottles, wooden palett etc, with truly remarkable results. Kathy Hinde's videos, seen on a large screen with home-cinema sound, are truly exciting and thought provoking; far better than the efforts usually encountered in live concerts.

There are also "remixes" for those who are into that...

A huge endeavour, realised to perfection and likely to reach a large audience of "non-classical" afficionados, but recommended also to the more adventurous of our reader collectors.

Peter Grahame Woolf

The Smith Quartet: Dance

Ian Humphries (1st violin)
Darragh Morgan (2nd violin)
Nic Pendlebury (viola)
Deirdre Cooper (cello)

commissions and world premiere recordings on the theme of ‘Dance’.


Bates, D: Peculiar Terms of Physical Intimacy
Cutler: Folk Music
Dennehy: Stamp
Finnissy: Minuet
Fitkin: Informal Dance
Jegede: Dancing In the Spirit
Kats-Chernin: Naive Waltz
Lord, J: Zarabanda Solitaria
Nyman: Tango
Poppy: Definitely Disco
Prokofiev, G: Bogel Move (Jamaican Dancehall)
Tan Dun: Black Dance
Volans: White Man Sleeps: First Dance

Signum - SIGCD236

What a refreshing change from all the single-composer CDs and intégrales which over-swell the catalogues!

This is careful, imaginative programming. Every piece has a reason for being there, and the sequence makes for absorbing listening which gives hope for the future of the string quartet. You will note that Gabriel Prokofiev appears yet again and that the quartet includes Darragh Morgan, better known to our readers through his partnership with pianist Mary Dullea.

All these releases are interlinked and they may sensibly be considered for purchase as a group; you will find much to enjoy and think about.

No time for appraisals of separate pieces, but I found none of them redundant and this disc is strongly recommended.

Peter Grahame Woolf