Big Week for ECM


This is a big week for ECM — the label is releasing four new CDs of concert music, including CDs featuring Duo Gazzana, Erkki-Sven Tűűr, and Tigran Mansurian. All of these discs are worthy of scrutiny, but the one that I have spent the most time with is a recording of chamber music by English composer Harrison Birtwistle. It includes his recent Trio for Violin, Cello, and Piano (2011), a piece that combines pointillism, expressionism, and Birtwistle’s fascination with corruscating, out-of-sync clock-like rhythms. Violinist Lisa Batiashvilli, cellist Adrian Brendel, and pianist Till Fellner give a taut, highly charged reading of the piece. Elsewhere, baritone Roderick Williams and soprano Amy Freston supply controlled, nuanced, and often ethereal performances of settings of Niedecker and Rilke, all from the nineties and aughts. These pieces show a tendency towards concision, lithe linear writing, and, in places, an affecting lyricism that one does not always find in Birtwistle’s earlier music. Recommended.


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