Wigmore Soloists Focus on British Music
This is the fourth BIS release from the Wigmore Soloists. And this time they’re staying a little closer to home. All three composers represented are from the UK.
The musicians that comprise the Wigmore Soloists are all in top form. And in this SACD recording, they sound great. The ensemble blends are seamless. The recording captures the natural sound of the instruments.
The release opens with the Octet of Howard Ferguson from 1933. Ferguson was a self-critical composer. He only allowed twenty-one of his works to see the light of day.
The octet is very much in the English pastoral style. Ferguson doesn’t quote folk songs. But his choice of harmonies and melodic turns make this sound very English.
Arthur Bliss was greatly inspired by clarinetist Frederick Thurston. His distinctive style was very much in Bliss’ mind as he wrote his Clarinet Quintet. The work was completed a year before Ferguson’s Octet.
The two pieces share a similar style, though Bliss sounds less distinctively British.
After listening to the Ferguson and the Bliss, Robin Holloway’s octet might be a shock to the system. The Serenade in C was written in 1979. And Holloway’s aesthetic was far removed from 1930s Britain.
Holloway uses musical cliches to create something new and wonderfully quirky. The listener is never quite sure where the music’s going, but the fun is in the journey.
This is a fine addition to the Wigmore Soloists’ catalog. And it would make a fine addition to most listeners’ music libraries.
Ferguson, Bliss, Holloway: Chamber Music