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Three Tall Poppies

The Metallic Violins

Matthew Hindson, Roger Smalley, James Cuddeford, Stuart Greenbaum, Elena Kats-Chernin, Andrew Ford, David Harris & Mary Finsterer

James Cuddeford & Natsuko Yoshimoto (violins)

Tall Poppies Records TP 207

James Cuddeford and Natsuko Yoshimoto have long played together in quartets and as a violin duo; now they lead orchestras far apart. This fine CD, mostly of commissions for the duo, epitomises their efforts to enlarge the repertoire for this fruitful combination.

The programme starts with a flourish, Matthew Hindson's title piece evoking the heavy metal "shredding" technique, with sliding and scratchy effects put over at breakneck speed and with daunting precision.

Smalley's Suite for 2 violins is a satisfying "probingly thoughtful work of much sophistication that draws out their ability to free the music from the strictures of time and allow it to enter a meditative dimension" [The Australian]. Cuddeford's own Concealed Waves, a series of wave-like swells in memoriam the 2004 tsunami which he witnessed, is consolatory rather than seeking to evoke the horrors of the event.

David Harris' Compossible XIV takes the players into the realms of indeterminacy and microtonalities, with unusual textures and extrememly slow glissandi (c.f. Gloria Coates). Mary Finsterer's Spherica I ends this remarkable sequence with "ethereal harmonics" of a beauty which resonates in the memory.

The impeccable, and always beautiful toned, playing on two Gagliano violins is matched by high recording and production standards, with biographies and fine colour photos of all concerned (no silly grins !) - all probably masterminded by Belinda Webster.

This is a great CD to treasure alongside those of the Swedish Duo Gelland, which have enriched our perspecitve on the potential of contemporary duo chamber music.

David Lumsdaine (piano music)

Kelly Ground
Ruhe sanfte, sanfte ruh’
Six Postcard Pieces

Mark Knoop, piano

Tall Poppies TP198

This very absorbing 1996 recording received in a batch from Australia features a contemporary music specialist pianist who has recently made a great impression in London, q.v. at City Unversity and at the Royal Academy of Music.

David Lumsdaine’s piano music is in a modernist idiom which sounds purposive and compels attention. This disc has been reviewed in extenso by one of our contributors, Tim Rutherford-Johnson, who writes that "although the music is highly organised, there is never a sense of contrived abstraction"; about Kelly Ground " - - a sombre mood, one of energies and freedoms restrained"; with Ned Kelly's death " - - the fizzing energy of the earlier movements has become petrified".

I commend you to click onto his in-depth assessment of this important composer's "steadfast belief in the power of technical abstraction to articulate human concerns that gives Lumsdaine’s music its profound beauty". I can't match that, but am glad to have had the disc in a batch which arrived from an Antipodean firm, whose releases have from time to time given great pleasure..

Tangos after Piazzolla

Compass Abrazo Tango

Tall Poppies TP 205

A hugely entertaining disc, deriving from a project combining classical and jazz-trained saxophonists, aiming to find a common ground between the two disciplines.

We played it straight through with continual interest and enjoyment

The photo gives a better impression of what to expect than does the rather
effete cover image; its back cover with contents takes reticence to new extremes with the white-on-pale green track timings all but invisible!*

Peter Grahame Woolf

* See http://www.musicalpointers.co.uk/articles/CD_InsertBooklets.html