PHILIP CASHIAN (b.1963): Tableaux (Northern Sinfonia; Thomas Zehetmair), Cello Concerto (Darrett Adkins [cello], Oberlin Contemporary Music Ensemble; Timothy Weiss), Piano Concerto (Sarah Nicolls [piano], London Sinfonietta; Zsolt Nagy and Christopher Austin), The House of Night (Christopher Redgate [oboe], Sainsbury Royal Academy Soloists; Austin), Dark Flight (Royal Academy of Music Cello Ensemble; Austin).
Catalogue Number: 12P080
Description: A characteristic that these works share is a constant sense of restlessness, with constantly changing meters and note-values in different parts, and syncopated instabilities in metrical mechanisms that nonetheless function like intricately assembled, if eccentric, machines. Even when the music is metrically steady and unhurried, as in the first section of the tenebrous and unsettling House of Night, harmonic instability provides a sense of pent-up energy - which surely enough, is released soon enough, before the music finally winds down to an exhausted close. The three-movement piano concerto, from 2006, explores a greater variety of textures and moods than the other works, and also stands somewhat apart in being less obviously tonally based. The solo part has a nervous, febrile quality, even in the unusually calm slow movement. The last movement is typical Cashian - and more obviously tonal, with a biting, Stravinskyan harmonic contour - generating an irresistible if precarious drive and momentum. The more recent cello concerto makes much of the interplay of pizzicato figuration, enhancing the sense of jittery activity, and bowed, nervous melodic material. Soloist and ensemble seem to be in a constant state of irritable dialogue. Cashian's idiom is grounded in tonality, and all the music is arresting, generating a sense of nervous excitement throughout.