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A homage to Messiaen’s Catalogue d’oiseaux, Jonathan Harvey’s 30-minute Bird Concerto with Pianosong features the tweets, cries and warblings of Californian birds such as the Orchard Oriole, Golden-crowned Sparrow and Indigo Bunting. The soloist must perform the piano part while intermittently triggering a sampler/ synthesiser, thus ensuring that the live electronics are part of the real-time performance. Pianist Hidéki Nagano neatly tackles this logistical feat, and the trills and tinkling upper register of the keyboard blur beautifully with the natural timbres. To some, this concept might sound rather contrived, but the 30-minute work is fascinating and bears repeated listening. The London Sinfonietta (who else?) is the collaborating ensemble, and the group provides a colourful backdrop to Nagano’s sparkling songs.

The disc also includes Other Presences for trumpet and multi-loop effects, and two versions of the canonic Ricercare una melodia (1984), originally written for trumpet and quadraphonic tape-delay system, here performed on oboe and cello, with live electronics from Sound Intermedia.

CLAIRE JACKSON Read the full review on Agora Classica


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