Martin Iddon - Sapindales [Another Timbre - 2021]
Sapindales brings together four Clarinet pieces from Manchester-born composer Martin Iddon. Each of the featured works celebrates the instruments more unbalancing to grimly moody tendencies, with each managing to create its own distinct air/ feel. The release appears as a CD on Another Timbre, who of course is one of the most consistently rewarding labels within the modern composition/ modern classical fields.
Martin Iddon has been actively creating work since the early 2000s - with seemingly his compositions spanning string, piano, chamber, and voice-based work. The four pieces here date from between the years 2010 and 2020- with each having runtimes between fifteen and twenty-one minutes.
First up we have the track “Muses” here we a disorientating blend of seemingly constantly spiralling clarinet playing, and rising-to-warbling classical female vocalising. The whole thing has a feeling of hazy un-balancement, that seemingly has no beginning or end- meaning you could easily put this track on a loop for prime taut disquiet. Next, we have “Ptelea” which is for bass clarinet- it sounds like the instrument has been layered up- to create this feeling of seesawing wooziness, that lullingly swings between low, mid and high notation. Next, we have “tu as navré”- this is for bass and contrabass clarinets, cello and double bass. Here we find a selection of shifting and darting swoons, which at points almost meet, at others create a feeling tone shifting gloominess/ grey fraught-ness.
The CD is finished off with the title track, which is the longest work here at twenty-one minutes. It’s built around a selection of drifting and slowly pitch-shifting clarinets- underneath them, we find field recordings of twittering birds. This work creates a feeling akin to walking through a forest as dusk is just starting to set in, and the further you go you become less clear of your path and surroundings. The track really does create a tangible feeling of lulling unease, and I really like the way the clarinets sometimes almost completely drift out of sonic sight- with the bird song creating its own eerier sonic half-light.
Sapindales was my first taste of Mr Iddon’s work, and I must say I was most impressed- with both the scope/ mood of the pieces, and the general effective feeling of woozy to greyly unbalancing atmospherics. So I will certainly be keeping an eye out to hear more of his output.Roger Batty