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Cowie Choral Works

Bell Bird Motet
The Soft Complaining Flute
Lyre Bird Motet

BBC Singers & Endymion, Stephen Cleobury & Simon Joly/Stephen Preston (baroque flute)

Signum SIGCD331

An exotic collection of choral works in Edward Cowie's nature project, with bird song dominating the music, their song set down by Cowie by ear and by hand as Messiaen had done in pre-computer times.

There are sparing texts taken from Cowie's own preparatory sketchbooks, including by Goethe and Beaudelaire. Unusually, and disconcerting for a reviewer, these are not reproduced in the booklet, which is graced by some of the composer's own drawings [R], a selection of which is also to be seen on Cowie's website. Signum tells me that the words are intended mainly to inform the performers of "what the music is doing".

In all of the works on this CD, Cowie uses phonetic sounds of his own invention, together with fragments of texts. Singers find themselves singing the names of colours, or short verbal descriptions of landscape features.

For Cowie, words become "like any other acoustic signals, with the absorption of text and non-text designed to enrich the sensations within the listener's ears" !

A new world for me, recommended enthusiastically to musical explorers.

Peter Grahame Woolf

See http://www.edward-cowie.com/ and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_yc3XfxRzo

and read also review from The Guardian