Revisiting the sixteenth century: 'August' by Alison Wrenn

Composed for recorder ensemble, August literally breathes new life into the ancient soundworld of the recorder consort. Written for eight-part ensemble, the work plays on homophonic quasi-minimalist blocks of repeating patterns, which gradually increase vertically, adding more lines in similar motion before subsiding and beginning anew. The central section revels in arching melodic lines which follow almost euphoric natural contours, supported by some luminous harmonic colours. The final section is extrapolated from an initially simple gesture, gradually developed until a brief coda sees a return of the opening.  There's a cheerful nature to the material, which bubbles along with terrific verve.

Hertfordshire-based Wrenn talks on her website about the piece being inspired in part by Torke's July, that relentless, vibrant piece for saxophone quartet which one sax quartet admitted to me that many players feared as there's simply no room to breathe; Wrenn is more sympathetic to the player's needs, in a piece that is less muscular than the Torke but is instead more willowy - where Torke bustles out, Wrenn instead murmurs along in a more conversational manner. It might be less robust, but it's more flexible a piece, one which re-invigorates the sixteenth-century consort sound and brings the past to the surface; for a piece named for a summer month, there's a warm, Advent season feel to the music.

Listen for yourself also on Soundcloud here,  and find out more about the composer here.

Write a comment

Comments: 0