Prima Facie release Sadie Harrison's CD 'Return of the Nightingales'

We are delighted to announce the Prima Facie release of Return of the Nightingales: Music for Solo Piano (PFCD072), featuring eight world premiere recordings of solo piano works by Sadie Harrison, composed between 2012 and 2017. The CD will be released on 17 November 2017.

Return of the Nightingales is a celebration of four pianists with whom Sadie has collaborated extensively over the past decade - Philippa Harrison, Duncan Honeybourne, Ian Pace and Renee Reznek. As the majority of the pieces were premiered by these pianists, the disc is a showcase not just of Sadie’s music but also of each performer.

An extract from the introductory essay:

Just as its cover shows a piano mysteriously being placed on – or pulled out of? – a wall in a city ravaged by war, the music on this album emerges out of two silences: Sadie Harrison’s own, as a composer whose output a decade ago had slowed almost to a stop; and the larger silence, or silencing, which in the album’s title track becomes her subject – the prohibition on musical activity which was imposed by the Taliban government in Afghanistan in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

In the title track, the figure of the nightingale, familiar from classical Persian poetry, comes to stand for the return of music to Afghanistan in the nevertheless still troubled years after 2001, and the repeated appearance of nightingales throughout the works collected here – in the third of the four nocturnes collectively titled Lunae, in the evocation of Alabiev–Liszt’s ‘Le Rossignol’ as played by the early twentieth-century composer-pianist William Baines, and in the fluttering wings of the album’s other ‘Persian’ piece, Par- feshani-ye ‘eshq – suggests that Harrison may have come to imagine her own new fecundity of invention as itself the removal of an unfreedom.

A creative pause – even if it stems from a feeling of exhaustion, of having nothing left to say – may ultimately reveal itself as the prelude to a glorious new eloquence, just as sleep is not final but attains a natural (if also temporary) end as night gives way to dawn. As the Afghan example shows, too, a state of outward silence does not necessarily reflect the inner absence of the expressive impulse. The desire to express, its usual means thwarted, may seek new outlets. ‘When it got impossible to do graffiti on the walls of Kabul,’ writes the street artist Shamsia Hassani, whose artwork Dreaming Graffitiprovides that striking cover image, ‘I started taking photos of my favourite city walls and would paint my works on the photos.’ Harrison herself re-trained and worked as an archaeologist between 2006 and 2012, and there is a relevant comparison with Bartók’s silences of 1912–15 and 1941–2, periods in which he almost certainly believed he had given up professional composition for good in favour of ethnological work collecting and cataloguing folk music, but which we retrospectively interpret as interludes or ‘research’ for further creative work.

(Harrison’s affinity with Bartók runs deep, incidentally, and it is a particularly pleasing coincidence that two of the performers featured on this recording are grandpupils of Bartók, via his piano student György Sándor, while all four can trace a pedagogical lineage back – in two cases via Bartók, in the other two via Edwin Fischer – to Liszt.)

[...]

This album is the record of an awakening, but it also tells a story about learning to sleep well. The last of the three miniatures with which it ends – each perfectly matched to the specific musicality of its dedicatee – is marked by its resumption of the Luna title as another night-piece. It is peaceful but open-ended, non-final like sleep, and as it comes to rest we might call to mind the closing lines of John Fuller’s text for The

Crimson Bird, the vocal–orchestral scena by Harrison’s teacher Nicola LeFanu to which this closing piece pays homage:

When the night will in the end give way To the dawning reason of the day.

As the album ends, the world continues on. And we are in it – and, thanks to Sadie Harrison, a little more of it.

© 2017 John Fallas

Track listing: [1] Return of the Nightingales [2-7] Par-feshani-ye 'eshq: Six Pieces after Bidel [8-11] Lunae: Four Nocturnes [12-17] Shadows: Six Portraits of William Baines [18-21] Four Jazz Portraits [22] The Souls of Flowers [23] Northern Lights [24] Luna... for Nicola 


Cover image: Birds of No Nation – Dreaming Graffiti © Shamsia Hassani (https:// en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shamsia_Hassani)

(3 Nov 2017)

Recent news

  • BBC Music gives excellent review of Paredes’ Zuhuy Kak recording by de Saram

    Hilda Paredes’ work for solo cello Zuhuy Kak, performed by the legendary Rohan de Saram has been released on 15th November 2019 on the CD 20th Century British Works for Solo Cello on First Hand Records (FHR045).  The CD has received an excellent review by BBC Music Magazine (November 2019).  Helen Wallace writes: 'Saram, former cellist of the Arditti Quartet and a tireless adventurer in new music, marks his 80th birthday with a very personal collection, almost a musical ‘This is Your Life’.  Each of the works was written for him by composer friends and colleagues over his six-decade-long career. 

  • Ed Hughes’ ‘Sun, New Moon and Women Shouting’ Upcoming Performance

    UYMP is very excited to announce that Ed Hughes’ work for choral a cappella vocal ensemble SSC-tTBarB, Sun, New Moon and Women Shouting will be performed by I Fagiolini at Kings Palace in London (25th April, 2020).

    Tickets for the concert ‘Au Naturel: Nature Unwrapped’, featuring Hughes’ work, can be purchased here and I Fagiolini have also very graciously given permission for their recording of Sun, New Moon and Women Shouting to be featured on Hughes’ website.

  • Tinoco's 'Archipelago' receives fantastic reviews

    Luís Tinoco’s new CD on Odradek has received two great reviews, in Memetaria in the USA by Thomas May and in Pizzicato by Remy Franck.  Archipelago is reviewed as a recommended new release by May.  He starts by saying: 'Have you heard the wonderful music of Luís Tinoco? I invite you to try out the latest album of his work, Archipelago, recently released on the Odradek label. I first encountered this excellent Portuguese composer and acclaimed radio host — who grew up in the post-revolution generation — in the early Morlot days with Seattle Symphony, when they played FrisLand, a kind of orchestral ode to Bill Frisell. (FrisLand is available, along with such works as Tinoco’s Cello Concerto, on his previous Odradek album, The Blue Voice of the Water).'

  • BBC R3’s Record Review selects Tinoco’s ‘Archipelago’ CD for ‘New Year, New Music’

    Luis Tinoco’s vibrant new CD Archipelago, released in November on Odradek, featured on BBC Radio 3’s Record Review with Andrew McGregor as part of its ‘New Year, New Music’ season last Saturday, 4th January, with compliments to everyone involved in the creation of the music and album.   McGregor gives the CD a top rating: ‘It’s one of the best-recorded percussion ensembles I’ve heard in ages’.  McGregor conveys the skill of the composer, the virtuousity of the performers and the expertise of the sound engineers when he says that Tinoco’s music is ‘showcased' in this new album by contemporary percussion ensemble Drumming GP’ and goes on to say: ‘Tinoco's music for them is interesting enough in its own right; you get Mind the Gap for solo marimba, his memories of travelling in London, as well as Genetically Modified Fados, reactions to old recordings of Portuguese (Fado) songs. But the recording itself is demonstration class; so vivid, airy and resonant. The album's called Archipelago; it's new from the Odradek label.’  

  • Fabulous review in Fanfare for Simaku’s new Naxos ‘Solos and Duos’ CD

    Fanfare Magazine (USA) has given a glowing review of Thomas Simaku’s new CD on Naxos – Solos and Duos for violin and piano (Naxos 8.579035) in its Issue 43:3 (January/February 2020).  The reviewer, James H. North, begins by saying that it really is difficult to compare Thomas Simaku’s music to anything one has heard: ‘His music is so original that past experience fails.  How can one describe his music?  Simaku seems to create his own structure as he goes—the music reeks of impetuosity, as if he were dashing off the notes sequentially.’  North cites Scheuregger (Tempo 73 (290) pp. 40–50), Simaku’s former student, and Simaku himself, on Simaku’s upbringing under the repressive Stalinist regime in Albania, on international Modernist and Southern Albanian influences and on Simaku’s love of Hungarian composers Ligeti and Kurtág.