Frank Denyer - The Boundaries of Intimacy [Another Timbre - 2020]
The Boundaries of Intimacy is a collection of seven chamber works from versatile & creative British composer Frank Denyer. For the pieces we get a wide-ranging & at times quirky selection of instrumentation taking in flute, string quartet, voices, koto,electronics, and Denyer’s own self-built bowed ‘sneh’. With the mood/ tone over the sixty-six minute CD nicely moving between lulling-yet-unbalancing, darting & atmospheric, and quirky- to-otherworldly…so this is far from a 'formal' collection of chamber works.
Denyer has been active since the mid-1970s, and he utilizes a blend of conventional instrumentations, as well as unequal, unusual, and structurally modified instruments. He spent many years studying non-Western music- so many of his compositions are microtonal, or he use non-western tunings. His work is often challenging, but mostly fairly approachable & playful in its feel- so don’t go into this release, or any other of his works thinking you're going to get deliberately difficult or strange sounding composition…sure he does things a little differently than most ‘formal’ classical composers- but his work is mostly easily consumable.
The seven pieces span from the start of his career to more recent work- so the timeline of the pieces runs between 1974 & 2018. The disc opens up with 2005’s “Mother, Child, And Violin”- here we get a blend swooping & baying female soprano, guttural-to-unsettling female vocalizing, and violin. The piece has a nicely shifting-to-unbalancing quality- as it moves between harmonic & playful, shrill & sour, and at points frightening. With 1975’s “Piece For Koto Version 1” we find Denyer more stark & moody side with it’s tiptoeing, at times wavering notation. The twelve & a half minute title track is from 2015 and brings together compressed-to-powerful blown flute, mouth sounds, and gently modifying electronics. With the CD’s final track we have "Frog" from 1974- here we find Denyer's self made instrument Smalt Sneh, creating a slowly seesawing string work that slides between slightly playful melody & mysterious sour-ness.
The Boundaries of Intimacy shows both the scope & creativity of Denyer as a composer- and I’d say if you like modern composition that’s fairly approachable, yet unpredictable pick this up…also from Denyer, and on Another Timber is The Fish that became the Sun (Songs of the Dispossessed), and this is well worth pick-up too, as it offers up a single longer-even more unpredictable work.Roger Batty