Brabbins: Pickard - The Gardener of Aleppo and other Chamber Works (24/88 FLAC)
Brabbins: Pickard – The Gardener of Aleppo and other Chamber Works (24/88 FLAC)

Composer: John Pickard
Performer: Susan Bickley
Orchestra: Nash Ensemble
Conductor: Martyn Brabbins
Audio CD
Number of Discs: 1
Format: FLAC (tracks)
Label: Bis
Size: 1.23 GB
Recovery: +3%
Scan: yes

01. The Gardener of Aleppo
02. Daughters of Zion
03. Snowbound, for bass clarinet, cello and piano

Serenata Concertata
04. I. Cadenza I
05. II. Aria I
06. III. Scherzo – Notturno
07. IV. Cadenza II
08. V. Aria II

Three Chicken Studies
09. No. 1, Laying
10. No. 2, Feeding
11. No. 3, Fighting

12. The Phagotus of Afranio
13. Ghost Train

Four previous releases on BIS have all featured John Pickard’s music for large orchestra – or, in the case of the Gaia Symphony (BIS-2061), large brass band. This new album, on the other hand, presents scorings ranging from a solo oboe to a chamber ensemble of eight players. The seven works cover just over 30 years; the earliest one, Serenata Concertata, was Pickard’s first paid commission written at the age of twenty. In his liner notes, Pickard notes that he has an aversion to repeating himself: ‘so each new work tends to be a reaction against the character, structure and technique of the previous one… The result has been a body of work with a wide expressive range and this disc gives some indication of that. The pieces on it are grouped in a broad progression from the serious to the more lighthearted.’ The two opening works are indeed inspired by serious matters – the background to The Gardener of Aleppo is the war in Syria, while Daughters of Zion, the only vocal work on the album, sets a text that reflects on anti-Jewish aspects of certain early Christian celebrations. In the latter work, Susan Bickley joins the players of the celebrated Nash Ensemble, who go on to lighter fare in Three Chicken Studies (Pickard himself has kept chickens as pets) and Ghost Train, a perpetuum mobile built on a cantus firmus derived from the Dies iræ theme. For this and the other chamber ensemble pieces the conductor Martyn Brabbins, a longtime collaborator of Pickard’s, wields his baton.

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