David Gorton’s program is wild, mysterious, paranoid, dense, difficult, and rarely understated or straight-forward. The five movements of Orfordness characterize a former military base on the Suffolk coast. I is the kind of chaotic piano key mashing that makes you think the poor instrument should be retired after putting up with such a beating.
II is the most charming movement as the music is “heavily redacted”, leaving the listener with only the after effects of the piano keys created through crackles, scrapes, and strikes. Deputy Base Commander Lt Colonel Halt is the star of III as a large section of what sounds like a field recording of a UFO encounter is heard with few musical interjections.
Austerity Measures II is a brash assault comprising David Gorton’s Quartet 3, ‘Passacaglia’, and
‘Cadence’, all heard at the same time. The Howarth-Redgate oboe is a specific model of oboe required to perform the piece. All the instrument does, however, is wail on unstable multiphonics. Fosdyke Wash, like the ending of Orfordness, is much calmer than Austerity Measures II. There is still a darkly mischievous tone supplied by clusters and pyramids; but there is also restraint, silence, and the weight that single, important notes gain when set off from others.