Harrison Birtwistle | Chamber Music | ECM New Series 2253



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Harrison Birtwistle | Chamber Music | ECM New Series 2253
ECM New Series 2253April 2014

Lisa Batiashvili: violin
Adrian Brendel: cello
Till Fellner: piano
Amy Freston: soprano
Roderick Williams: baritone

This album of Sir Harrison Birtwistle’s chamber music and songs, mostly of recent vintage, is issued as the innovative Great British composer approaches his 80th birthday. It features an exceptional cast. Heard together and separately is the trio of Austrian pianist Till Fellner, Georgian violinist Lisa Batiashvili and English cellist Adrian Brendel. They are joined by London-born singers Amy Freston and Roderick Williams. The compositions include “Bogenstrich” written in 2006 as a short piece in tribute to Alfred Brendel and first played by his son Adrian together with Fellner. It was subsequently expanded into a cycle with the addition of settings of Rilke for baritone, cello and piano. The “Trio” is the newest piece, premiered in 2011, a 16-minute single movement work of elaborate patterning, gestures and responses, for piano, violin and cello. Settings of the writings of US Objectivist poet Lorine Niedecker (1903-1970), scored for soprano and cello in 1998 and 2000, begin and close the album. As Bayan Northcott writes in the booklet, “These concentrated songs demand the utmost of their performers in precision, expression and timing. As in Webern’s settings, the few words and notes on the page can seem to imply whole worlds of thought and feeling”. This highly-concentrated chamber-scale expressivity is felt throughout the entire album, recorded at Munich’s famed Herkulessaal, and produced by Manfred Eicher.