Magazine article Gramophone

Ensemble Bash Record British Works They Commissioned

Magazine article Gramophone

Ensemble Bash Record British Works They Commissioned

Article excerpt

'A Doll's House'

D Bedford Bash Peace S Copeland Breather

Fitkin Shard N Hayes Dance Play Leach Echolalia

McGarr Sound Asleep Montague Rimfire Skempton

Slip-stream K Tippett Dance of the Dragonfly

Ensemble Bash

Signum (F) SIGCD294 (51' * DDD)

'A Doll's House' is a collection of mostly short (two- to six-minute) and refreshingly varied pieces by British composers born between 1943 and 1973, commissioned and performed by the percussion quartet Ensemble Bash, now celebrating its 20th anniversary. Their crisp precision and commitment to each work is abetted by vividly close-up and detailed engineering plus rapid DJ-like segues between selections that create a seamless, sustained programme.

Listeners familiar with Graham Fitkin's post-minimalist mastery or Howard Skempton's stark delicacy will know what to expect from their opening contributions, although the non-verbal vocalisations and cowbell effects throughout Stephen Montague's Rimfire reveal an airy, whimsical side to a composer I know more for his driving intensity. The late David Bedford's Bash Peace is a lilting, evocative duet for steel pans, leading into Nick Hayes's Dance Play for marimba, vibraphones and drum-set, which is essentially a samba with quirky rhythmic parantheses. By contrast, Peter McGarr's Sound Asleep is a collage incorporating a multitude of instruments and non-instruments from glass chimes and pitch pipes to wine glass and egg slicer.

While Stewart Copeland's Breather is light and improvisatory, Rachel Leach's Echolalia rigorously manipulates repeated phrases from one instrument to another. …

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