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<<  -- 2 --  Robert Anderson    Tootling in Accrington


Birtwistle's origins on the edge of Accrington were complemented by his start on a wrong edge of music. His mother wanted him to learn the flute 'from somebody round the corner'; it hardly mattered that the teacher turned out to be a clarinettist, since the young Harrison was launched into the wind world where he has always felt at home and become an ever-experimental master. Tootling in the Accrington military band led to serious clarinet study in Manchester and to the work, written during bandsman military service in 1957, that Birtwistle was to acknowledge as the official beginning of his creative career. Indeed he seems, in Refrains and Choruses, to spring fully armed from the head of some post-Stravinsky-Varèse-Webernian archetype of his imagination. In his wind quintet formation, the horn is always odd man out, if only because it is the sole brass instrument. That is evident enough during Refrains and Choruses, which at once introduces a characteristic Birtwistle sound-world [listen track 2, 5:24-6:24]. The Galliard Ensemble, mostly female (see the photo), displays admirable virtuosity and evident zest in tackling a range of music that Birtwistle has designed to tax them toughly.

The Galliard Ensemble


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Copyright © 20 February 2002 Robert Anderson, London, UK






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