Gramophone

GRAMOPHONE:
Now in her early thirties, Alwynne Pritchard has been a presence on the British new music scene for more than a decade. As this disc amply demonstrates, her take on post-war European Modernism owes little to any prescribed school or system, drawing on a range of compositional approaches in music which is often punchy and uncompromising but always engaging.

After the jagged intricacy of Spring (a brief tribute to Michael Finnissy on his 50th birthday), the Piano Quintet deploys elements of the folksong Barbara Allen in sparse, pointillist context. Nostos Ou Topos explores the concept of ‘returning to no place in particular,’ following two compositional paths through three continuous sections of microtonally-inflected guitar writing.

Matrix employs a similar strategy – working methodically through eight related groups of ideas, with a wide range of playing techniques and a powerfully evocative use of silence. The brooding, expressionistic pianism of Der Zwerg is a little too unrelieved, but Kit attains its theatrical immediacy through simple yet telling performance instructions and a couple of distinctive ‘found’ texts. Deer Glücklose Engel pointedly contrasts dualities of movement, time and sound in music which sets the instrumental trio in continual though productive opposition. Finally, Invisible Cities draws on the lst sentence of Italo Calvino’s book to create a maze as diverse interpretatively as it is musically intriguing.

With formidably well-realised performances from the members of Topologies (Darragh Morgan fearlessly mining the potential of the electric violin in Matrix), and sound which finds clarity and impact in a variety of recording locations, this is an important disc, helping to ensure that Alwynne Pritchard’s music can be heard and well discussed.

—Richard Whitehouse