BRYARS: Cadman Requiem.   Adnan Song Book
Soloists/Hilliard Ensemble/Fretwork/Gavin Bryars Ensemble/David Smith, cond.
Point Music 462 511 (F) (DDD) TT: 61:13

English composer Gavin Bryars (b. 1943) is virtually unknown to American CD collectors or, for that matter, to concert goers. However, Schwann's 1998 catalog lists over 20 recorded compositions by the Yorkshire native, devoted mainly to chamber music plus a scattering of works for solo voice and instrumental accompaniment.

Judging from this CD featuring the Cadman Requiem, his music deserves more than a casual listen. The first thing one hears is how well the music matches (and re-enforces) the texts. Also interesting are the ways in which organum-like unisons, suspensions and open intervals (4ths and 5ths) expand into more traditional homophonic textures over churning, arpeggiated accompaniments. And it all sounds like....well, therein lies its one else. Cadman Requiem (composed in memory of sound engingeer, Bill Cadman, killed in the 1988 Lockerbie aircrash) is strengthened by the excellent performances from the four-member Hilliard ensemble and instrumental ensemble called Fretwork.

In like manner, the Adman Song Book, comprising eight songs set to love poems by Etel Adnan, are impassioned and vital as sung by the extraordinary soprano Valdine Anderson. The Gavin Bryers Ensemble provide sympathetic support. A fine CD for the adventurer.

K.S. (Sept. 1999)