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Neue Vocalsolisten Stuttgart
Nicolas Hodges piano

Nieuw Ensemble, cond Jurjen Hempel

NMC D123 [2 CDs - 127 mins]

At ENO, unable to follow the text in the dark, the single performance of Ferneyhough’s opera (here released on CD) was a frustrating evening which we didn't last out and didn't attempt to write up.... We had not found easier an introduction to his work by Brian Ferneyhough himself at a Goldsmith's College seminar.


As even Paul Driver found Shadowtime "the acme of abstruseness", no wonder that Ferneyhough has had to seek and find fame and fortune in Europe and USA, but remains a rare presence in UK.


Taken a few scenes at a time at home, it is listenable to, sometimes almost beautiful, even though one ends with having no idea what Walter Benjamin (canonised since his suicide) and Charles Bernstein were on about!


Words cannot replace listening and deciding for yourself. NMC provides online snatches of the multitude of strangely titled tracks at http://www.nmcrec.co.uk/?page=catalogue/item.html&id=132. The second section Les froissments d'ailes de Gabriel ("to all intents and purposes a guitar concerto") is engaging, as is Nicholas Hodges, speaking pianist, in Scene IV.


Try a few samples, and then, for an extended appreciative review of a work that still baffles, do read Anne Ozorio in Music Web.


© Peter Grahame Woolf