“Pandora’s Last Gift” = CHRISTOPHER WRIGHT: Wind Quartet; Spring’s Garden; Orfordness; Capriccio; Spirit of the Dance; The Long Wait (Elegy); In Celebration; Helter Skelter; Concertino – Nichola Hunter (flute)/ Lisa Osborne (oboe)/ John Turner (recorder)/ Elizabeth Jordan (clarinet)/ Naomi Atherton (horn)/ Sarah Nixon (bassoon)/ Richard Howarth, Nicholas Ward & Catherine Muncey (violins)/ Richard Williamson (viola)/ Tim Smedley (cello)/ Lesley-Jane Rogers (soprano)/ Harvey Davies (harpsichord)/ Jonathan Fischer (piano) – Metier msv28547, 77:50 [Distr. by Naxos] ****:
Christopher Wright is a name new to me, and certainly not to my credit! The title of the album refers to the composer’s searching for a suitable theme for this collection of works spanning the last thirty years, with the last “gift” of Pandora being that of “hope”. All this seems to mean more to him than any sort of effect on us; his music alone, completely divorced from any kind of programmatic element is sufficient enough.
And it is remarkably consistent over the years, highly lyrical in the best English sense with all the suspect influences (one of his teachers was Richard Arnell), dramatic, engaging, rhythmically enticing, and in possession of a fluidity that is as natural as dew on early morning grass. Everything is so darned inevitable that one wonders how hard this composition thing really is; but that’s always the key to highly-motivated and artistic work, isn’t it?
For this record he has assembled an all-star cast of performers that many will recognize. The pieces are a varied lot, from viola and piano to piano quartet to baroque trio sonata fashion. Each piece is well-crafted and highly enjoyable—I can’t think of one I didn’t like. It’s still too early to tell how ingrained this composer will become in my listening habits, but based on this disc alone there is certainly a hankering for more. Great sound and performances—try him out.
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