Magazine article Gramophone

Weeks: Mala Punica

Magazine article Gramophone

Weeks: Mala Punica

Article excerpt

Weeks

Mala punica (a). Walled Garden (b) (a) Exaudi; (b) Hortus Ensemble / James Weeks

Winter & Winter (F) 910 239-2 (54' * DDD)

Brian Eno once argued that experimental composers are by instinct gardeners, who plant musical seeds that evolve into complex systems minded to grow beyond their control, as opposed to modern composition 'architects' who, like a Boulez or a Babbitt, draw up definitive designs which performers must follow to the letter.

The British composer James Weeks, 40 next year, falls equidistant between these two polarities. His Mala punica (2008-09) is intricately organised note-on-note. Eight solo voices sing a set of eight compositions that, as he explains, 'channel the canon's intrinsic momentum in different ways'. But encasing this vocal music, and interweaving through its veins, is another composition, written six years later. Walled Garden, for two alto flutes, bass flute and string trio, becomes like fertile soil or clay in which we hear Mala punica grow--and the concern is not just the counterpoint of note against note or of phrases shadowed, it's the counterpoint of one composition set in motion against another. …

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