... of bones and muscle
Mercurial Sparks, Volatile Shadows
Into my burning veins a poison
Zubin Kanga – piano (1, 2 & 11–18)
Patrick Nunn – electronics (1–2, 7–9 & 19) carillons à musique (5)
Sarah Watts – bass clarinet (3 & 8)
Carla Rees – alto flute (4), quarter-tone alto flute (19)
Richard Shaw – piano (4 & 19)
Rosanna Ter-Berg – piccolo (6)
Arek Adamczyk – bassoon (7)
Matthew Schellhorn – piano (9 & 10)
Sarah Mason – percussion (9)
Maria Ołdak – violin (10)
This CD showcases a selection of solo and duo works written between 1998 and 2015. Spanning seventeen years of creative development, the works represent a clear distillation of musical thought that aims to express musical ideas as evolutionary objects along a temporal trajectory.
In Sprite (1998), the earliest work presented here, clearly defined rhythmic material serves as a basis for the music’s reluctant energy and sprightly nature. In later works, such as Into my burning veins a poison (2004), Gonk (2004, rev. 2005) and ... of bones and muscle (2009), the creative focus shifts to more subtle materials that explore combinations of acoustic instruments and electronic components. These works lay the foundations for what later becomes an obsession with creating meeting points and points of ambiguity between two seemingly opposed sound worlds – the acoustic and the electronic.
The desire to create these points of convergence lies behind the most recently composed works presented here. In Isochronous (2010), the pianist and percussionist perform inside the confines of swirling pulsars played through four speakers positioned at the periphery of the concert space. At times, the performers attempt to blend and mimic the rhythmic regularity of the pulsars (part of a fascination the composer has with otherworldly sounds). At other times, the irregularities of the sounds created by the performers, juxtaposed with the regularity of the pulsars, remind us of the individuality of our terrestrial personalities.
In both Pareidolia I (2012) and Morphosis (2014), the performers attempt to connect with their doppelganger as they shape and manipulate live electronic reflections of their material in a quasi-improvised duo. In Pareidolia I, the sensors are attached to the body of the bass clarinet, resulting in performance controls that are in addition to traditional performing techniques. However, in Morphosis, the 3D sensors attached to the performer’s hands cause subtle inflections to occur in the electronic reflections, which are often directly related to performance gestures and the musical demands of the score.
Despite the addition of electronics as a means to augment the composer’s sound world, the shackles of tradition remain to an extent. This is clearly evident in the acoustic works Mercurial Sparks, Volatile Shadows (2005–6), Transilient Fragments (2007) and Eight Cryptograms (2011–15), where the old rhythmic fascinations coalesce with the more fluid materials found in more recent works. That said, the search for new sounds persists and is expressed in the multiphonic bass clarinet study Shadowplay (2013, rev. 2015), where more traditional writing coexists with the unfamiliar.
Fundamental to Nunn’s creative process is the desire to connect with sounds outside of the concert space. In recent works, this preoccupation has extended to the use of analytical processes to draw pitches and sometimes rhythms from these sounds to make them a malleable part of the musical material. This absorption of these harmonies and rhythms that are traditionally unfamiliar in concert works into the compositional fabric is as often disguised as it is revealed by the music’s surface layer. However, in Lamellae (2015), the composer’s analysis of bell partials is presented transparently to the listener, offering them an insight perhaps into something of what is at stake in all of these works.
RSR003CD | Media: CD/Digital Download | Release date: Feb 2016
Pre-order CD, delivery Feb 2016