Czech Philharmonic Wind Ensemble

Divine Art DDX21117

As a follow up to a previous disc, Twisted Skyscape (DDX2118), the present CD offers five works for woodwind orchestra, all première recordings. The five composers are Keiron Anderson, Judith Bingham, Charlotte Harding, Kamran Ince and Christopher Hussey, who is also the producer along with conductor Shea Lolin, who are co-initiators of the project. 

Each of the composers inhabits a different sound world, so there is a variety of contrasting musical idioms which makes for a satisfying listen, even all in one sitting. 

Hussey’s Child of the wandering Sea, which ends the disc, is a symphonic poem in three movements, invoking the creatures who inhabit our oceans, from the colourful fish and corals of the upper regions (Sunlight) into the deep (Twilight) and then on to the very depths (Midnight). The music ranges from the sparkling to the sepulchral and Hussey shows an expert command of the instruments at his disposal. 

In a completely different idiom is Keiron Anderson’s Alice in Wonderland which is overtly tuneful and sounds as you would expect from a score drawn from music for scenes such as the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party.

Also great fun is Judith’s Bingham’s Mozart’s Pets, a set of five shorts movements portraying a fox terrier (yapping saxophones), a cat, a dawn chorus, a grasshopper (a movement which exploits the tapping of the woodwinds’ keys) and finally a canary singing at Mozart’s death. Who knew Mozart had a pet starling? 

Charlotte Harding’s Bright Lights represents the excitement at visiting a new city. The two contrasting movements are Luminous and Energetic, colourful, and I can vouch that they sound as their titles suggest. The opening section gives a sense of space with sustained chords and juxtaposed roulades, while the second is much more rhythmic, dynamic and somewhat jazzy, conjuring up the bustle of the city. 

Another city is recalled in Kamran Ince’s Domes, this time it is Rome. The music exploits the silence between musical phrases and ends with a haunting melody broken between moments of stasis.

The large woodwind ensemble is a rare beast in Europe (there are more in the United States); the members of the Czech Philharmonic Wind Ensemble are wonderful advocates of this music with their dexterous and bravura playing. All of the works are receiving their world première recordings. This colourful collection is warmly recommended.

Review by Ronald Corp