Sound Out presenter Ian McGlynn picks some of his favourite new releases and recordings you can buy, download or stream this summer...
Winter - Ficino Ensemble (Ergodos Records)
Don't let the title fool you, this is music for all seasons from a new Irish classical chamber group, Ficino Ensemble. The ensemble are a musical collective who can perform in larger or smaller groupings and therefore a wide range of repertoire and musicians include violinist Elaine Clark, cellist Ailbhe McDonagh, clarinet player Macdara Ó Seireadáin and harpist Geraldine O’Doherty.
The album spans 120 years ranging from Brahms’ Clarinet Quintet to Ravel’s Introduction and Allegro for harp, flute, clarinet and string quartet, but the title track Winter is composed by Garret Sholdice, his response to these earlier works. Sholdice says his piece is a fulcrum that sits between the two, entirely concerned with re-colourings and shadings of musical material.
Henryk Gorecki: Symphony No. 3 'Symphony of Sorrowful Songs' - Beth Gibbons, Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra, Krzysztof Penderecki (Domino Records)
What do trip-hop pioneers Portishead and contemporary classical composer Henryk Gorecki have in common? A new recording of his iconic Symphony No. 3 recorded by Beth Gibbons and the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Krzysztof Penderecki.
Gorecki’s Symphony No. 3 (better known as Sorrowful Songs) premiered in 1977 to an underwhelmed public, but a 1992 recording with soprano Dawn Upshaw and the London Sinfonietta under conductor David Zinman propelled it to the top of the American classical charts. It’s a work of three movements, laments sung in Polish. The most famous movement Lento e Largo uses a text taken from the wall of a Gestapo cell in World War II, but the third movement describes a mother searching for her son who had been killed by the Germans in the 1919 Silesian uprisings. A desperate, beautiful depiction of a mother’s tragic loss in the midst of war.
Caroline Shaw: Orange – Attacca Quartet (Nonesuch and New Amsterdam Records)
Pulitzer Prize–winning composer Caroline Shaw has worked with artists including Kanye West, The National and Ben Folds but she describes her new project Orange as a garden that she tends. Her latest album features six works for the Attacca Quartet that use the standard quartet form. The quartets take inspiration from what came (or grew) before, namely works by Haydn, Mozart, Ravel, Bartok, Bach, Monteverdi, and Josquin. And the tracks titles give us an insight to her thinking - The Cutting Garden, The Herbaceous Border and The Orangery. We also like the opening Entr'acte.
Klang – Goeyvaerts String Trio (Louth Contemporary Music)
Described by the Goeyvaerts String Trio as 'yoga for the ears', Klang by composer Wolfgang von Schweinitz was one of the key works at the 2018 Book of Hours Louth Contemporary Music festival. After hearing it performed and seeing the audience reaction, society founder Eamonn Quinn decided to record it as the next album for the acclaimed Louth CMS contemporary music label.
The full title is KLANG auf Schön Berg La Monte Young, referencing contemporary composers Arnold Schoenberg and La Monte Young. It borrows the intonations of Young, paired with harmonic progressions from Schoenberg’s Structural Functions of Harmony. The work is just one movement over 40 minutes long, but it’s a piece of great calm, beauty and sometimes distress.
Silk Baroque - Wu Wei and Holland Baroque (Pentatone)
Silk Baroque is a musical encounter between avant-garde Sheng soloist Wu Wei and the Holland Baroque ensemble that fuses repertoire of the European baroque period and traditional Chinese tunes. It's a fascinating collection that moves seamlessly from music by Bach, Vivaldi and Telemann, to Chinese traditional folk tunes.
The sheng is a sort of ancient Chinese mouth organ and in the hands (and mouth) of Wu Wei with the improvisational know-how of Holland Baroque, this is an intriguing project. Their motto is 'Old music does not exist; the music is only finished when you play it’ - sample their take on Vivaldi’s La follia and decide for yourself...
Ian McGlynn presents Sound Out every Sunday evening 9-10pm on RTÉ lyric fm, an exploration of the latest music from Irish and international artists and composers, including a weekly gig guide and a listen to new releases - listen back here.