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Bryn Harrison - Receiving The Approaching Memory [Another Timbre - 2016]

Receiving The Approaching Memory is a new composition from British minimalist/modern classical composer Bryn Harrison. The work is for Violin & Piano, and is built around an entrancing & subtle shifting selection of interweaved notation patterns.

I first became aware of Mr Harrison back in 2013, when he released Vessels -also on Another Timbre. That work had been solely for piano, and saw a piece based around a series continual descending, yet stationary notation.  I had enjoyed the simplistic Feldman-esque feel of the tracks structure, but felt it was a little too long at itís nearing 80 minute length. So when I saw he had a new work out, I was keen to hear what is like. And I must say Receiving The Approaching Memory is most impressive; as it builds on the promise of Vessels to offer a work that is both self assured, clever, and spellbinding. And I think it really shows Harrison stepping from out of Mr Feldmanís shadow, to create a work which is very much of his own

The composition comes in at 38.30, and is broken into five parts- with each part lasting between the five & nine minutes.  Each section/part of the composition presents an almost identical selection of revolving piano & violin patterns- these take in a blend of spiralling-yet-seemingly constantly descending keys, and rapid string saws. The patterns managed to blend together nervy urgency, angular atmospherics, and sprightly yet taut ornate-ness.  With each new part, one or both of the instruments very slightly alter their patterns- so ones mind tires to recall the last part exact pattern unfold. There is really no distinct start or end to each part, so if one wanted to you could let this play on loop, to Iím sure great results.

The Violin is played by Kazakhstan Violinist Aisha Orazbayeva, and the Piano by London-based pianist and conductor Mark Knoop. And each performs their part with great simmering precision & ornate yet angular detail. The work was recorded in the summer of 2015, with editing done by Knoop- so I donít know whether this means he altered the original flow of the work into separate sections, or what. But I guess it doesnít really matter, because as the work stands itís triumphant in itís stop-start  structure. And this  really enhances the woozy urgency of the whole thing.

Like the best minimalist/modern classical works Receiving The Approaching Memory sucks you in from the outset. With ones mind quickly locking into the patterns repetitive flow. Yet the breaks/separations add another level to the work, which of course nicely links into the composition title. So in summing-up, if you enjoy minimalistic & pattern based composition for piano & violin this really is worthy of your time.

Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5

Roger Batty
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