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CD Review

Justin Connolly

Chamber Works

  • Verse for 8 Soloists Op. 7b 1
  • Triad III for Oboe, Viola & Cello Op. 8 2
  • Cinquepaces for Brass Quintet Op. 5 3
  • 3 Poems of Wallace Stevens for Soprano & 7 Instruments Op. 9 4
1 John Alldis Choir
2 Vesuvius Ensemble
3 Philip Jones Brass Ensemble
4 Jane Manning, soprano
4 Nash Ensemble/Justin Connolly
Lyrita SRCD305 57m DDD
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Born in London in 1933, Justin Connolly is today regarded as one of Britain's important composers, but when the works recorded on this disc were being penned, Connolly was still lagging behind such contemporaries as Goehr and Birtwistle. The pieces that make up this programme represent a selection from the composer's output during the 1960's, a time of consolidation and experimentation, whereby by the end of the decade his distinctive musical language had come to the fore through the medium of several instrumental and vocal works.

"Verse' reveals the composer's instinctive grasp of technique and ability to achieve vivid sound images in a strongly realised choral work. "Triad' is fragmentary and mosaic like and has a central movement considered one of Connolly's most effective inspirations. "Cinquepaces' is a muscular dance piece in 6 sections leaning towards dynamic virtuosity where the players might be regarded as the actual dancers (in Elizabethan times). The Wallace Stevens poems, Op. 9 (1967), which are the first of two attempts, feature an impressive range of colours where the instruments depict the rapidly changing imagery of the poems and with the vocal writing is always at the service of the texts.

The disc was recorded in 1972 but the sound is still fresh and wholly atmospheric with Paul Conway's helpful essay another superb plus for this most enterprising issue, highlighting a composer whose music is still being discovered.

Copyright © 2008 by Gerald Fenech