The Squid's Ear Magazine


Denyer, Frank / Octandre Ensemble: Screens (Another Timbre)

An exceptional collection of works by composer Frank Denyer written between 1973 and 2021, especially the monumental 5-part "Five Views of the Path", performed by the UK Octandre Ensemble led by composer Christian Mason and conductor Jon Hargreaves, which focuses on modern composers with an emphasis on works of timbre and ritual, Denyer's work being an ideal match.
 

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product information:

Personnel:



Frank Denyer-composer, vocals

Sam Cave-banjo, mandolin, jaw harp

Patrick Bolton-bassoon, contrabassoon

Musica Practica-commissioned by

Jon Hargreaves-conductor

Audrey Milheres-flute, piccolo flute, vocals

Anneke Hodnett-harp

Ilze Ikse-Melodica-whistle, objects, concert flute, bass flute

Adam Cracknell-percussion

Calum Huggan-percussion

Corentin Chassard-Violoncello

Christian Mason-vocals

Chris Goodman-clarinet

Richard Craig-concert flute, bass flute

Richard Jones-viola

Benjamin Marquise Gilmore-violin

Juliet Fraser-voice

Angela Wai Nok Hui-percussion

Joshua Ballance-voice

Taylor MacLennan-concert flute


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Label: Another Timbre
Catalog ID: at220
Squidco Product Code: 34336

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2024
Country: UK
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold
Recorded at Menuhin School, in Surrey, UK, on September 2nd, 3rd and 4th, 2022, by Robert Bosch.

Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"An extraordinary album of compositions by Frank Denyer, played by Octandre Ensemble. 'Screens' contains five pieces, whose dates of composition range from 1973 to 2021. Anyone listening blind would struggle to identify which were early pieces, and which were late; they all simply belong to and come out of Frank Denyer unique and idiosyncratic soundworld.

A list of the instrumentation for the first piece, 'Broken Music' from 1990, gives an indication of the peculiarity and eccentricity of the music: flute, piccolo, crow call, melodica, beaked whistle, shepherd's whistle, marble on table top, bassoon, contrabassoon, cello, banjo, harp, two percussionists playing non-standard instruments, offstage crow call, offstage rabbit call and offstage fox call.

Irresistible music."-Another Timbre



An Unfamiliar Terrain

"Frank Denyer's music is full of questions, but never pretends to easy answers. Rather, it offers us a fluid space for imaginative reflection on the nature of music and the fragile condition of human culture more generally. Sometimes these questions are - or appear to be - benign 'compositional questions', such as how to create a particular blend of colour within an ensemble (as in Unisons), or how to create subtle timbral changes through spatial disposition (as in Screens), but behind such particular questions, which give their creative spark to individual pieces, there lurks a bigger and more troubling question, strikingly exemplified on this disc by the seemingly incongruous array of instruments that comprise Broken Music, Screens and Five Views of the Path.

It is a question of how to meaningfully cohere the diverse, and sometimes conflicting, raw elements of our contemporary awareness into an authentic - one might almost say truthful - musical expression, in the midst of a world where the very context of our artistic and cultural experience is so heavily mediated by coercive commercial and political forces that we can never be quite sure that quiet/individual voices will even be heard, however urgent their message. This artistic quest is informed not only by Denyer's sense of historical crisis within the tradition of Western composition, but by his extensive ethnomusicological fieldwork through which he has been in close contact with, and documented, traditional cultures which have since been largely obliterated by so-called 'progress'. Such first-hand experience of barely-noticed cultural loss has undoubtedly strengthened Denyer's resolve to continue the quest. As Bob Gilmore put it in 2003: "His whole concern with musical instruments, new, modified or nearly extinct, can perhaps be seen as a metaphor for the larger question of what can be salvaged, artistically, from the chaos of civilisation as we begin a new century." The century may not be so new now, but this need to re-evaluate the essentials of music-making through the lens of atypical resources continues to define Denyer's ever-searching artistic attitude....

The works collected here span almost fifty years of creative activity, and a wide sonic palette, yet they are connected by a thread that has remained constant at the heart of Denyer's music since the early 1970's, namely melody. Denyer's insistence on the primacy of the horizontal direction of music was in stark contrast to the prevailing musical environment when it first became a compositional preoccupation, as he explains: "Following some leads that came from writing and re-writing A Book of Emblems and Songs I found with the Unison set that I had somehow strayed into, what seemed at the time, an unfamiliar musical terrain. Remember that at this stage I was just an innocent, tentatively trying to absorb this new situation and find my way about." This attraction to the possibilities of 'unfamiliar terrain' conveys itself, in the Unisons, through the timeless freshness of the melodic language, which eschews any sense of pre-determined structure in favour of an intangible quality where the melody seems to discover itself as it ebbs and flows, and occasionally - for brief moments - splits in two." "



"The Octandre Ensemble was formed in 2011 by composer Christian Mason and conductor Jon Hargreaves. Our core repertoire is music written after 1945, with an emphasis on timbre and ritual. Sound is an eternally fascinating phenomenon, and music can harness its power in ever more original ways: new music, ancient ideas.

In recent years, our activity has centred on long-term relationships with living composers. ​2021/22 sees collaborations with Frank Denyer, as well as new and ongoing projects with composers Jack Sheen, Christian Mason and Sinan Savaskan. Our ongoing relationship with Denyer saw him win the RPS Award for Large-Scale Ensemble Composition in 2020 following our World-Premiere performance of his epic The Fish that became the Sun, at Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival the year before. Our studio recording of the work is available on Another Timbre records. In 2018, we presented the music of Denyer, Nicola LeFanu and Rolf Hind in a series of Composer Portraits at The Coronet, Notting Hill, funded by the PRS Foundation, RVW Trust and the Hinrichsen Foundation."-Octandre Ensemble website



"Frank Denyer's music is relatively little known, but deeply loved by those who know it. His music has a deeply personal intimacy, with a focus on musical and acoustic intricacies, gently inviting rapt attention from listeners. Alongside this warmth, the large scale of The Fish that Became the Sun also encompasses moments of loud extraversion, quirky humour, bleak darkness, and golden brightness.

In the 1970s, Denyer lived, worked and studied music in West Asia, Ahmedabad (India) and in Nairobi. His musical thought is profoundly influenced by other cultures, although his output is in no sense a fusion of East and West. From 1981 he taught at Dartington College of Arts, where he was Professor of Composition until 2010. Denyer co-founded the Barton Workshop with James Fulkerson in 1990, and their recordings of American Experimental music, as well as Denyer's own compositions, have met with international acclaim.

Recently, Denyer's music has begun to be recognized in more mainstream circles, with acclaimed titles on the Another Timbre record label. As well as The Fish that Became the Sun, 2019 saw a second disc released The Boundaries of Intimacy. In addition, Denyer's book In the Margins of Composition was published that year, and later in 2020, Suhail Merchant's full-length film about Denyer and his work will receive its premiere."-Octandre Ensemble


Artist Biographies

"Frank Denyer is an English composer whose brilliantly coloured and imaginatively rich compositions fall between several and into none of the accepted categories of contemporary music.

Born in London in 1943, he was a chorister at Canterbury Cathedral by the age of nine, the director of the experimental music ensemble Mouth of Hermes in London at the age of twenty-five, and a Doctoral student in ethnomusicology at Wesleyan University, Connecticut at the age of thirty. He has lived and worked in east Africa and India.

Denyer's music is distinguished by a keen sensitivity to sound. Each of his works is written for a unique combination of instruments, more often than not a combination that no composer has dreamed of before. Each work finds its own individual form, laying down the path for its journey as it proceeds. In some cases even such basic musical materials as the scales and the tuning system are invented from scratch.This music is handmade in every detail; it is engaged in a complex process of affirmation and negation, accepting no easy solutions.

For Denyer, a fine pianist who has composed not one note for his own instrument since his student days, the whole question of musical instruments is a central one. His compositions present an astonishingly varied array of sound sources - new instruments of his own invention, adapted instruments, instruments of non Western traditions, rare or virtually extinct instruments, and conventional Western instruments. This whole concern with what his friend Morton Feldman called 'the instrumental factor' is not a postmodern mixing-and-matching of instruments from different 'ethnic' traditions: rather, his work suggests that all instruments bear the imprint of the tradition of which they are a part, whether that tradition be nascent, mature or decaying, and that at the beginning of the twenty-first century we cannot afford to be complacent about which musical traditions we consider to be 'ours.' Neither is his music that of a composer making do with ready-mades or whatever lies to hand (like Cage's percussion ensemble works of the 1930s and early 1940s). Nor, at the other extreme, does one have the sense of the composer gradually assembling an instrumentarium of his own, creating the illusion of an alternative musical universe (like Harry Partch): for one thing, Denyer's assembly of new instruments hardly ever plays together; for another, they rarely recur from one work to the next - each new composition wipes the slate clean and starts afresh. The instruments are like flowers that suddenly spring up between the cracks in a wall; they seem to be there because the opportunity has arisen for them to exist, to fill the gaps between isolated islands of instrumental sound.

Denyer's concern with musical instruments can also be seen as a metaphor for the larger question of what can be salvaged, artistically, from the chaos of civilization as we begin our new century. Compositions like A Monkey's Paw (1987-88) and Finding Refuge in the Remains (1992) confront this central issue - the sense of new life emerging from a morass of dead or decaying matter - an urgent issue for him both compositionally and culturally."

-Frank Denyer Website (https://www.frankdenyer.eu/)
4/22/2024

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"English guitarist and composer Sam Cave is one of the guitar's leading exponents of new music.

Sam's performances have taken him to some of the most exciting venues and festivals in the UK and abroad with appearances at St John's Smith Square, City Showcase Festival, Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, Nonclassical, The Institute of Contemporary Arts, LSO St. Luke's, AVGARDE concert series in Norway, the Purcell Room at the Southbank Centre, Kings Place and the Tianjin May Festival in Tianjin, China. Sam has been a Park Lane Group Young Artist and has recorded for both 'Another Timbre' and 'Metier' record labels. His playing has been broadcast on both 'Late Junction' and 'The New Music Show' on BBC Radio 3. Sam is a member of the leading new music groups Octandre Ensemble and Apartment House and has performed with many other groups at the forefront of new music including Riot Ensemble and Explore Ensemble.

Sam studied at the Royal College of Music in London with Gary Ryan and Chris Stell with financial assistance from The Countess of Munster Musical Trust. He has also studied with Vincent Lindsey-Clark, Michael Zev Gordon, Michael Finnissy, Gilbert Biberian and Craig Ogden and graduated from the University of Southampton with first class honours and the Edward Wood memorial prize in music. In 2020 Sam completed a PhD in composition at Brunel University, London under the supervision of Christopher Fox and John Croft.

As a composer Sam's work has been performed in the UK, Sweden, Norway, Poland, Lithuania, Italy, Australia and the USA by some of the most exciting young ensembles and soloists working today. He is an LSO Soundhub Associate Composer for 2017-21 and his music is published by Babelscores.

Now also an educator in much demand, Sam is currently a tutor at Brunel University, London, he has been a guest lecturer in composition for guitar at Coventry University and a lecturer in composition and orchestration at Kingston University."

-Sam Cave Website (https://www.samcave.com/bio)
4/22/2024

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"Richard Craig was born in Glasgow and studied flute at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama with Richard Blake and Sheena Gordon. Graduating in 2003 with a degree and solo diploma, he continued his studies (supported by the Scottish International Educational Trust and a Dewar Arts award) at the Conservatoire National de Region Strasbourg with Mario Caroli and Claire Gentilhomme. In 2006 he received a "diplôme de spécialisation" from the CNR de Strasbourg, achieving 'unanimité du jury'. During this time Richard also received guidance from Pierre-Yves Artaud. He now has a burgeoning international career performing with many of the world's finest groups and musicians.

Persistently challenging our perceptions of the instrument and new music, Richard Craig has developed a technique and repertoire that has attracted widespread acclaim as a musician and programmer, and it is this which defines his work: a resistance to be cornered by expectations, trends or traditional hierarchies. As a soloist, chamber musician and lecturer, Richard has worked with composers such as Brian Ferneyhough, Beat Furrer, James Dillon, Salvatore Sciarrino, Kaija Saariaho, Richard Barrett, Helmut Lachenmann and musicians such as Emilio Pomarico, Enno Poppe, Stefan Asbury, Pierre-Yves Artaud, Roberto Fabbriciani and Rohan de Saram. More recently, Richard has worked as an improviser with performers such as Johan Zakrisson, David Stackenäs and later in 2010, Barry Guy.

He also maintains close contact with new music groups musikFabrik Cologne, Klangforum Wien, KammarensembleN Stockholm and the Hebrides Ensemble performing with them in festivals throughout Europe: Venice Biennale, Festival d'Automne, UltraSchall, Maerzmusik, the St. Magnus Festival, Wittener Musiktage. Richard is a regular member of C.C.P Stockholm and SMASH Salamanca. Broadcasts include WDR Cologne, YLE Finland, Radio France, Radio Nacional de España, Swedish Radio, ARTE, and Icelandic RUV. His solo disc, INWARD, is on general release

through Metiér, featuring works by Ferneyhough, Barrett, Croft, Bång and Karski, among others.

Richard is also a laureate of numerous international competitions: Grand Prix and a Primo Speciale (for his performance of works by Sciarrino) from the XIth and XIIth L'Accademia Concordia Concorso Internazionale di Interpretazione di Musica Contemporanea, Italy and 'prix du jury' from the XIVth Penderecki international chamber music competition, Poland.

As a pedagogue he has given classes and workshops to musicians around the world (Columbia University, New York, CNR Strasbourg, France, Cork University, Ireland, Leeds University, Aberdeen University, Huddersfield and Napier University Edinburgh), an activity that he sees as vital to the music of our time. As of 2010, Richard will be Visiting Lecturer in Performance at the University of Aberdeen. He has also been awarded an arbetesstipendium from the Swedish Arts Grant Authority for 2009/10 in recognition for his work in contemporary music."

-Richard Craig Website (http://www.richardcraig.net/wp-content/uploads/RICHARD-CRAIG-bio..pdf)
4/22/2024

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"Juliet Fraser was educated at the Purcell School as a first-study oboist and then at Cambridge University where she read Music and History of Art. It was whilst a student there that she started singing, in the chapel choir of Clare College; subsequently she sang with professional choirs such as Polyphony, Tenebrae, the Monteverdi Choir, The King's Consort, The Tallis Scholars and BBC Singers. In early music, she has worked with European consorts Ensemble Polyharmonique and Gli Angeli Genève. She was a regular member of the soloists of Collegium Vocale Gent, directed by Philippe Herreweghe, for six years, performing and recording Renaissance polyphony by Lassus, Vitoria, Gesualdo and Byrd.

In new music, Juliet has performed as a soloist with Klangforum Wien, ICTUS, Plus-Minus, We Spoke: New Music Company, London Sinfonietta and BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra in festivals such as hcmf//, Tectonics Glasgow, Transit 20/21, Donaueschinger Musiktage, MaerzMusik and Wien Modern. Recently, she has created duo projects with pianist Mark Knoop and percussionist Maxime Echardour. She has premièred well over 100 works, many of which have been written for her, working particularly closely with composers Michael Finnissy, Bernhard Lang, Rebecca Saunders, Stefano Gervasoni, Frank Denyer, Christopher Fox, Matthew Shlomowitz, Cassandra Miller and Andrew Hamilton.

Juliet is principal soprano of EXAUDI, the acclaimed contemporary music vocal ensemble, which she founded in 2002 with composer/conductor James Weeks and with whom she makes regular appearances at major European festivals such as Aldeburgh, Spitalfields, hcmf//, ManiFeste, Festival d'Automne, Ars Musica, Wittener Tage and Darmstadt Ferienkurse. Opera roles include Neige in Catherine Kontz's NEIGE at Grand Théatre de Luxembourg (2013), Tina in Limbus Limbo by Stefano Gervasoni at Musica Strasbourg, Automne en Normandie, Opera de Reims and Opera Comique, Paris (2012), and Grace Hartigan in Larry Goves's I do this I do that (2011). Juliet has been nominated twice for an RPS Award in the Singer category and is currently supported by Aldeburgh Music's Open Space scheme. Her first dedicated solo disc, a recording of Morton Feldman's Three Voices, was released on the HatHut label in November 2016."

-Juliet Fraser Website (https://www.julietfraser.co.uk/biography/)
4/22/2024

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"Taylor MacLennan: Flute

Taylor has been the flute player of Explore Ensemble since its foundation in 2012. Originally from Scotland, Taylor moved to London in 2010 to study at the Royal College of Music where he received his Bachelor's and Master's degrees as well as an Artist Diploma in 2017. During his time there, he won the RCM Flute Prize and had the opportunities to work with conductors including Bernard Haitink, Vladimir Ashkenazy and Sir Roger Norrington. Taylor took up further study with Patrick Gallois at the Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Siena where he was awarded the Diploma of Merit.

Taylor was a member of Southbank Sinfonia in 2018 and has since worked with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, English National Opera and the Oxford Philharmonic, as well as guest principal flute with Scottish Ballet. Taylor has appeared at festivals including the BBC Proms, Aldeburgh, Cheltenham and Encuentro de Música Santander.

Taylor enjoys tennis, being a home barista and all things culinary."

-Explore Ensemble (http://explore-ensemble.com/the-musicians)
4/22/2024

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.


Track Listing:



1. Broken Music 14:38

2. Unison 1 5:44

3. Screens 14:32

4. Unison 2 5:58

5. Five Views Of The Path 1 5:41

6. Five Views Of The Path 2 3:47

7. Five Views Of The Path 3 3:13

8. Five Views Of The Path 4 3:35

9. Five Views Of The Path 5 3:58

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