The music of Richard Emsley -
reviewed by PATRIC STANDFORD
'... a more or less complete portrait of the composer's identity.'
Richard Emsley's world is one of textures, delicate like filigree, sharp
edged, shimmering bright like the surface of slow moving water that keeps
catching a radiant light, the sheen changing constantly and vanishing just
He was the co-founder of the London new music ensemble Suoraan that was
active and influential particularly in the early 80s, an ensemble that brought
together the extraordinary exploratory technical brilliance of flautist
Nancy Ruffer, oboist Christopher Redgate, Michael Finissy, piano, the soprano
Josephone Nendick and John Harrod playing percussion.
The earliest piece in this fascinating retrospective Emsley CD is the
substantial (23 minute) puppet theatre piece The Juniper Tree which
appeared in 1981, designed for that original group, and here performed by
Topologies that includes Ruffer and Redgate, with Ian Pace, piano, Clare
Lesser the wordless soprano and Julian Warburton, percussion. Though based
on a singularly bloodthirsty Grimm fairy tale (how horror excites children!),
it can be heard, in this 'concert' version, like a sunrise glittering through
broken glass [listen -- track 8, 3:15-4:10] moving
gradually into a series of energetic cadenzas [listen
-- track 8, 9:07-10:00].
Copyright © 20 November 2002
Patric Standford, West Yorkshire, UK