Occasional Music’ begins arrestingly with a piece for alto saxophone and tape delay called Ultramarine. This initially offers intriguing rhythmic effects, then evolves into melodic fragments which build in a satisfying way before dissolving back into the rhythms from which they had arisen. The opening movements of People and Places (for Flute, Viola and ‘Cello) is an energetic moto perpetuo full of rhythmic ingenuity. The calm meditative qualities of the movement that follow are a beautiful contrast. The final movement initially recalls some of the spirit of the first before some brief moments of reflection herald the coda.
The two song settings on the CD are dramatically contrasting in style. One to Another is (in the composer’s words) a two verse classical ‘rock’ song written for Mary Wiegold’s Songbook, which has a lilting quality about it. Monday’s Child has a much darker lyrical quality to it with imaginative orchestration. This, the biggest scale composition on the album, demonstrates clearly a musical imagination that deserves attention.
The Composers Ensemble perform well throughout and the recording is clear and well produced. The whole CD is a pleasure to listen to, and the compositions must also be a pleasure for the performers to play. In a classical musical world where deliberately obscure contemporary works are often given precedence over those written by composers who are truly in touch with the musical understanding of the general listener, this recording is a refreshing change. Jane Wells deserves a large audience for her music and for this CD.