FiddleSticks

£12.00

 

On first hearing Lou Harrison’s violin concerto, Madeleine Mitchell was entranced by the colourful array of percussion and its juxaposition with the violin’s innate lyricism. Indeed, this description could fit almost all the works featured on this lively, multi-rhythmic disc. Both string and percussion blend in a unique mix of styles from early Andalucian music to a Stravinsky inspired piece, Fragments from a Gradual Process. Complex rhythms from the Ensemble Bash who use rhythms of West African drumming as the core of their playing, combined with Madeleine’s interweaving lines often catch the listener in a moment of surprise.

Including the works:
   
Concerto for the Violin with Percussion Orchestra
Vermilion Rhapsody
Fragments from a Gradual Proces
Gharnati
Mopti Street
Kumpo
SKU: SIGCD111

What people are saying

"Fiddlesticks is a collaboration between two of Britain’s most liveliest musical forces. One is the indefatigably adventurous violinist Madeleine Mitchell…the sticks belong to the Ensemble Bash, the supremely talented 4-man percussion group…an evening of gloriously ear-tickling sounds…"

The Times

 

" … my favourite contemporary music CD of 2007 … These are enthusiastic performances with immaculate sonics: brilliant stuff"

BBC Music Magazine

   

"Ideal players to help you uncover the complexities of Harrison’s Concerto … the high level of Harrison’s unfaltering invention would be superhuman if it weren’t so understated … Madeleine Mitchell lets Harrison’s material speak for itself, taking a noticeably objective view, and it’s a winning strategy"

Gramophone

     

"If you fancy giving your ears a good work-out then this should do the trick very nicely … so captivating and headily virtuosic are these performances by Madeleine Mitchell and Ensemble Bash that one is left positively thirsting for more"

Classic FM Magazine

       

"Mitchell plays this often lyrical work with great style, in the Largo Cantabile second movement weaving deliciously sinuous and extended musical lines over the most delicate and colourful accompaniment … Mitchell is terrific throughout – she plays with a well focused tone that is both beautiful and lively"

The Strad

 


Release date:1st Nov 2007
Order code:SIGCD111
Barcode: 635212011126

BBC Music Magazine, Chamber Music Reviews, January 2008
Performance *****, Sound *****

It takes audacity to pitch a lone fiddler against a phalanx of percussionists. It’s the sort of thing that happens in free improvisation, but this is nothing of that kidney. Instead, these are works created by some notable composers for an ensemble (plus one chum) and soloist who are at the front rank of their respective instrumental contingents. The origins of the group and its repertoire are detailed in the booklet notes, so suffice to say that, as occasionally happens in new music, this kind of project would be laudable even if a failure. But it happily turns out to be my favourite contemporary music CD of 2007.

The composers involved are clearly unperturbed by the sonic gulf between the instruments, but rather recognise an opportunity to exploit not just the differences but also the points of contact between them. The resulting works are vibrantly capricious, yet each delivers its respective logic with a sense of completion which makes for highly satisfying listening. These are enthusiastic performances with immaculate sonics: brilliant stuff.

Roger Thomas

Classic FM Magazine, March 2008, *****

If you fancy giving your ears a good work-out then this should do the trick very nicely. The bracing range of timbres, textures and styles encompassed by this recital is enough to make the head spin – from the mesmerising tribalistic incantations of traditional Senegalese music to Lou Harrison’s Concerto for Violin and Percussion, which fuses elements of post-war avant-garde with the rhythmic cool of modern jazz. On paper it may not be exactly traditional hunting ground for Classic FM listeners, yet so captivating and headily virtuosic are these performances by Madeleine Mitchell and Ensemble Bash that one is left positively thirsting for more.

 

Julian Haylock

 Gramophone, February 2008

Ideal players to help you uncover the complexities of Harrison’s Concerto

Lou Harrison’s Concerto for Violin with Percussion Orchestra has a deceptively simple surface that reveals its complexities only after repeated listenings. Harrison described his work as being inspired by the Berg Violin Concerto and by world-music traditions.

I suspect Berg’s influence was more philosophical – how to create singing melody lines free from obviously tonal hooks while steering clear of atonal alienation – and the work actually responded directly to Harrison’s immersion in the culture of gamelan music.

Once the violin starts it barely pauses for breath until the final note, and the high level of Harrison’s unfaltering invention would be superhuman if it weren’t so understated. His understanding of gamelan traditions is so absolute that he’s able to sit inside the material and reinvent it through his composerly imagination. The spiky first movement generates a knotty structure through juxtapositions of different panels; the second movement is a lyrical tour de force as Harrison leisurely unfolds a snaking melody line, pausing to muse over passages that attract him most and gradually winding down to a stasis. Madeleine Mitchell lets Harrison’s material speak for itself, taking a noticeably objective view, and it’s a winning strategy.

The pieces by Anne Dudley, Tarik O’Regan and Stuart Jones were commissioned to sit alongside the Harrison in live performance and what a sorry job lot they are. Only Jones rises above idiomatic doodling and presents an intriguing patchwork structure. The gormless cheerfulness and written-out grooves of O’Regan’s piece are highly manipulative, and Dudley composes by numbers.

 

Philip Clark

 The Strad, March 2008 (UK, US & Canada)

The main work here is the Lou Harrison Violin Concerto with Percussion Orchestra, an enormously engaging work first performed in 1959. Mitchell plays this often lyrical work with great style, in the Largo Cantabile second movement weaving deliciously sinuous and extended musical lines over the most delicate and colourful accompaniment, conjured from, amongst other things, six flower pots and a plumbing pipe. There are five other works, most of which were commissioned by these artists. Mitchell is terrific throughout – she plays with a well focused tone that is both beautiful and lively.

International Record Review, July/ August 2008

Lou Harrison’s own concerto for the violin with percussion orchestra is the main work on ‘Fiddlesticks’, a vari-coloured and at times brilliant collaboration between violinist Madeleine Mitchell and Ensemble Bash. That Harrison’s concerto reveals the same penchant for found and invented instruments (plumber’s pipe, brakedrums, flowerpots and the like) as displayed by John Cage’s Third Construction (1941) is no coincidence. Although the composer put the finishing touches to the work in 1959, he actually started to the piece way back in 1940, a period when he and Cage ran a percussion ensemble together in San Francisco. The concerto supplies aural thrills in abundance, thanks to the exotic luxuriance of its sound-world and the polyrhythmic layerings that Harrison draws out from soloist and percussion quintet (for the Harrison concerto Ensemble Bash are joined by Karen Hutt). Also included are Anne Dudley’s Vermilion Rhapsody, Tarik O’Regan’sFragments From A Gradual Process, Stuart Jones’s Gharnati and Simon Limbrick’s Mopti Street. The disc’s other standout out is Kumpo, Ensemble Bash’s concert adaptation of a Senegalese male circumcision dance. he superb performance illustrates just quite how indebted Reich’s Drumming is to the West African tradition. A divertingly eclectic disc.

Peter Quinn

  1. Concerto for Violin with percussion orchestra – Allegro – Lou Harrison – 8.17
  2. Largo cantabile – Lou Harrison – 7.16
  3. Allegro vigoroso, poco presto – Lou Harrison – 4.07
  4. Vermilion Rhapsody – Anne Dudley – 8.10
  5. Fragments from a Gradual Process – Tarik O?Regan – 7.38
  6. Gharnati – Stuart Jones – 13.56
  7. Mopti Street – Simon Limbrick – 8.4
  8. Kumpo – Trad Sengalese, arr ensemblebash – 7.01