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The music of Richard Emsley -

'... a more or less complete portrait of the composer's identity.'

Richard Emsley: Flowforms (c) 2002 David Lefeber, Metier Sound and Vision

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 as swiftly.

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].

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Copyright © 20 November 2002 Patric Standford, West Yorkshire, UK


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