Scenery from Svendborgsund, A quiet summer day, by IEC Rasmussen
ENDNOTES, March 2019
In this edition; contemporary British music on the Sheva label: the Danish National Seasonal Songbook, from OUR Recordings; reviewed by Stuart Millson
Hector Berlioz, Grande Messe des Morts (Requiem), a concert at St Paul’s, reviewed by Leslie Jones
One of the most exciting discoveries made by The Quarterly Review Endnotes column (see Endnotes, February 2018) was the music – and large discography – of the modern English composer, Peter Seabourne; a figure almost completely ignored by the British music establishment. An identifiably 20th and 21st-century composer, Seabourne strongly identifies with our musical tradition – combining the stretched tonality of modern music with the understandable forms and textures associated with Debussy, Takemitsu, Britten and early, romantic-era Schoenberg. A guiding force in the world of the prestigious (but niche) Sheva classical label, the composer has offered recording opportunities to several other overlooked colleagues, including the former choral scholar, student at the Guildhall School of Music, organist and choirmaster, Gary Higginson – an equally prolific, yet neglected artist.
Astonishingly, given that Radio 3 has never mentioned his name or offered any lucrative commission for his music, Higginson has composed over a 30- to 40-year period – writing nearly 200 works. Influenced by such English composers as the symphonist, Edmund Rubbra, and by Carey Blyton (who composed much intriguing minimalist music for BBC Television, particularly for the early Dr. Who programmes), Higginson creates an atmosphere of remote landscapes: the opening of Two Pieces for Solo Flute, Op. 62, suggesting Debussy or Varese, but within moments, giving way to a more playful, pastoral sensation. A rare treat, here, to enjoy Maltese flautist, Laura Cioffi – whose playing, like a painter’s delicate strokes of watercolour, have a gorgeous finesse on Sheva’s almost perfect recording. Continue reading