Brass, Black and Blue
From the bright fanfare of Edward Gregson's Festivo we journey through Beethoven's nature, Roxanna Panufnik's sense of loss to the purity and calm of Stanford's Blue Bird.
A fanfaric opening to today's mixtape from the RNCM Wind Band performing Edward Gregson's joyous and exuberant Festivo. The driving rhythm continues with Ligeti's Musica ricercata for piano No 7. As the melody kicks in the rhythm becomes more like a tumbling ostinato that underpins a delicate and contemplative melody in the right hand. From here the light touch carries on, for a time at least as the texture opens out as we step into the Pastoral world of the 3rd movement of Beethoven's Symphony No 6.
Suddenly the atmosphere changes and we take a more mournful turn. Roxanna Panufnik's Votive for String Quartet, in the composer's own words, begins "quietly and intensely, a prayer that over 4 minutes gets more and more fervent, so that by the end it's a passionate declaration of the joy and positivity that was - and always will be - Pamela Majaro" - the work's dedicatee.
A sense of loss of another kind next as Laurie Anderson tells of the destruction brought by Hurricane Sandy in October 2012 with her piece for voice, piano, violin and electronics "Our Street is a Black River". Duke Ellington and Bubber Miley's Black and Tan Fantasy brings a sense of both the sombre and the whimsical that nod to a New Orleans funeral march from Cotton Club of New York.
After the sorrow comes the clarity and peace of Stanford's The Blue Bird, its reflection glimpsed in cool blue waters. Lastly we hear the plaintive solo flute of Debussy's Syrinx, echoing the voice of the bird itself as it disappears into infinite blue sky.