There is no doubt that Alwynne Pritchard is an original inventor in the soundscaping business. Her work is a series of sound installations relying as much on the vividly inventive imaginations and interpretations of her performers as upon her own visually diverting but esoteric scores. She places sounds in a broad landscape of silence inviting her listeners to wait for events and find their own associations with which to make sense of their apparently unrelated sequence. Her soundscapes communicate an impression of one searching but never finding, improvising endlessly without discovering any satisfying and usable material; her work feels like the quiet frustrations of one wanting to compose.
She was born in Glasgow in 1968 and moved from London’s Guildhall School of Music to the Royal Academy and on into the 90s to work with an impressive list of performers and ensembles, not least of which Ian Pace and Topologies whose excellent playing makes this CD. The accompanying booklet is an extended interview between the composer and Ian Pace, self-consciously resisting lucidity.
The two longest pieces in the recital are Matrix, an exploration for electric violin, performed by Darragh Morgan and the title piece Invisible Cities played by the redoubtable Ian Pace. There is a Piano Quintet called Barbara Allen, a lament stimulated by a Yorkshire mining accident a century and a half ago in which eleven young child workers were drowned.
Alan Thomas plays two versions of a solo guitar piece, Nostos ou Topos, the performance of which is open to various interpretations, and he accompanies on electric guitar Pritchard herself, reading the Spanish instructions for her food processor. Is it taking us back eighty years to Russolo, L’arte dei rumori? Well, it can be gentle, like the trio for clarinet, violin and cello stimulated by a poem written in 1958 by Heiner Müller, Der glücklose Engel. It all adds up to a very clear Alwynne Pritchard picture.