Frank Denyer – “The Fish that became the Sun” (Another Timbre, 2019)

“The Fish that became the Sun” was recorded by huge group of interesting and original musicians and ensembles – it’s “Octandre Ensemble” (directors Christian Mason & Jon Hargreaves), “New London Chamber Choir” (director Matthew Hamilton),
“Consortium 5”, “Perc’m Percussion Ensemble” (director George Barton), Benjamin Marquise Gilmore (violin) and Albert and Pearl Snow (child vocalists). A collaboration between four ensembles is touching, inspiring and modern – here the main tendencies of contemporary academical music are mixed up to free improvisation, sonoristic, experimental and modern classical music. An hour long piece for large orchestra ‘The Fish that became the Sun (Songs of the Dispossessed)’, composed between 1991 and 1996 by Frank Denyer, is masterfully interpretated in this album.

The compositions are written for different combos. The musicians are experimentating on various cases of musical language, especially instrumental and timbral section. That’s why “The Fish that became the Sun” has a marvelous and innovative instrumentation. A nice fusion of nowadays instruments, exotic percussion, huge range of objects and drums, percussion’s instruments made from discarded materials, obscured instruments such as eunuch flutes, ocarinas and crumhorns, home-made instruments, bring an exclusive, inspiring and colorful sound to the compositions. Extended playing techniques, weird,. specific, exotic, rarely used or traditional ways of playing, modern expressions, inventive decisions, special effects and sonoristic experiments also contain an important part of multi-layed and universal instrumental section. The abbreviations, expressions, ornaments, textures, polyphony and ways of composing and playing are used here to make an enchanting and bright musical language which is different and unique in each composition. The musicians are paying much attention to emotional side of the compositions – all of them have an especially expressive, moving and driving playing manner. There are many different episodes which are contrasting to the others – musicians and ensembles succesfully manage to express all huge range of emotions, characters. There are many subtle and solemn pieces played in tender, gentle and lyrical mood. Here silent tunes, stable beats, sweet and soft vocals, ornaments, passages and timbres of all kinds make a great combo. Dreamy, sweet and gentle mood is created. Claps, frottings, thrills, sudden bursts, extremely loud rolls or beats, exotic sounds of gongo, whispers, hollows, spoken elements, same as other similar tunes and sounds, are used here and become a great coloristics. These pieces have a contrasting and bright musical language where sonoristic experiments, strange timbres and abstract improvisations are the leading elements. Suddenly the music gets dramatic and aggressive. An excitement is growing – silent pieces written in simple and effective musical language, are changed by aggressive attacks, passionate solos, expressive charming melodies accompagnied by colorful dizzy passages, perturbating sessions and impressive riffs. These episodes have a bright, exciting, thrilling and inspiring mood. The musicians make a great and exclusive interpretation of ”The Fish that became the Sun” – it’s filled with affection, passion, inventive ideas, astonishing experiments, authentic traditions gently brought together with modern innovations and radical decisions. That finally makes a sensible, touching, inspiring and impressive sound.

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