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Benjamin Wallfisch (composer/conductor)

Escape Velocity

Michael Collins, clarinet
Gould Piano Trio + Garfield Jackson (viola)
Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra
O Duo, marimbas with York 2, piano duo
Orchestra of St John's/John Lubbock
Jemima Phillips, harp
Trio Tagarela, recorders

Quartz QTZ2049

This is an inspiriting compendium of new music by a prolific young British composer, 28 this year. He came to my notice through Ruth Palmer's recording of the Shostakovich violin concerto No 1, where he is to be seen on an accompanying documentary DVD.

For this composer portrait CD Benjamin Wallfisch has assembled a roster of leading musicians on the UK contemporary music circuit (all the named groups comprising celebrated individuals), including three cellists from the Wallfisch family dynasty!

His accomplishment and versatility is impressive; see his first attempt to write for the recorder, his trio a valuable addition to that instrument's growing contemporary repertoire, featuring here Emma Murphy and colleagues. And (maybe another first?) a piece for harp with electronics, digitally altered harp material, cunningly contrived to blur the disinction between live and recorded. The piano quartet deserves to attain a regular place in that medium's repertoire, alongside Mozart, Brahms and Fauré.

Benjamin Wallfisch eschews arid minimalism or esoteric complexity; his music is never simplistic and is well characterised by John York as "vivid and discipined, passionate and intense", each work "justifying its existence through its place in a complex netwrok of interconnections".

Splendid recordings (2002-2006) linked seamlessly with minimal gaps; I was more than happy to listen straight through, which I rarely do with multiple works CDs. Wallfisch features as conductor with the Orchestra of St John's & the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra. This release lays down a powerful marker for a composer from whom great things must be anticipated in the next decade.

Peter Grahame Woolf

Hear samples at http://www.quartzmusic.com/cd/QTZ2049.htm