It was the premiere in this concert that struck me most …a very distinctive voice that I’d like to encounter again. I found it very atmospheric, and quite magical.
With sumptuous Russian music dominating this BBC SSO programme, the breeziness of Edmund Finnis’s The Air, Turning made for an ideal opener. Conductor Ilan Volkov gradually built up the full spectrum of string sound, from the bottom bass notes to eerie violin harmonics, which was then finely smudged with woodwind and brass colour.
…an exquisite plangent prayer in close dense harmony with a rising soprano solo
The symmetrical construction of Birmingham Contemporary Music Group’s latest programme reflected the symmetry of the amazing work premiered at the heart of it…. Latest in the long line of BCMG’s spectacularly successful Sound Investment commissions, Edmund Finnis’ Parallel Colour employs two virtually identical ensembles, facing each other, with a lone double-bass as the linking king-pin. In some ways this symmetry goes back to the two orchestras of Bach’s St Matthew Passion, and though Bach uses his forces for dramatic and contrasting ends, here Finnis sees his own more as vehicles for repetition and refraction, as mirror-like as the confluence of sea and sky on a still horizon.
There is sheer beauty in the timbres he creates – subdued, sometimes ethereal – and only towards the too-soon-reached end is there a slight livening-up of activity. […] its effect was totally magical. Richard Baker conducted a willing BCMG in this premiere of what I would dare to declare a masterpiece in the genre.
A delicate five-movement work full of poetry
…an Aldeburgh festival commission from Edmund Finnis… Given its affecting affecting rocking patterns, expressive musings on gravely beautiful polyphony by Byrd, and the natural ease of its writing for strings, I now look forward to Quartets 2, 3 and 4.