The Wire

Dilok (1982) and Delal (1984) – both for oboe and percussion – and Kulamen Dilan (1990) for soprano saxophone and percussion draw on Islamic or Arabic sources, while Moon’s goin’ down (1980) and Runnin’ Wild (1978) draw a trajectory between Sidney Bechet and the genie that John Coltrane let out of the bag with Ascension . The obsession in these pieces is to ‘fake’ on manuscript paper the spontaneity and heat of music that only comes alive during real-time performance. These performances by oboist Chris Redgate and saxophonist Andrew McNeil are ebullient and joyous, using Finnissy’s text to penetrate performance practices that aren’t their own. Lost Lands itself is from 1977 (making it a near contemporary of Finnissy’s classic English Country-Tunes ) and here the composer is at his most enigmatic and opaque. Scored for the odd combination of soprano saxophone, violin, guitar, piano and shrill E flat clarinet, the pieces builds from stuttering fragments into an accelerating arc that moves so slowly, it’s impossible to gauge its progress. The music manages to be totally disorientating as it compels you further into its web – pulling off such contradiction is no mean feat.

—Philip Clark