The Strad's experts evaluate the latest string recordings
Metcalfe: Tracing the Outline, Constant Filter, Kite*, Lonely Bay, As She Fell, The Appearance of Colour
Friday, 01 October 2010
THE STRAD RECOMMENDS
Matthew Barley (cello/electronics) Ashley Wass (piano)*
Signum Classics SIGCD 207
This disc was something of a labour of love for Matthew Barley – he recorded it at home on his own equipment after over the years building up a repertoire of pieces by John Metcalfe for electronic cello. It was a steep learning curve: ‘I was engineer, producer, editor, and computer sound-designer – not to mention cellist,’ he writes in the booklet.
The result is compelling, and at times extraordinary – Metcalfe’s lyrical, contemplative lines are drawn with infinite care, and the immediacy and tenderness of Barley’s performance makes this music addictive. The organum-like sounds of Tracing the Outline, in which the computer duplicates Barley’s sound a fourth below in places, draw you in with their lush, slowly building textures. Constant Filter, the title track, lays a singing acoustic cello line over hovering electronics to great effect.
The five movements of Kite, for cello and piano ‘with a hint of electronics’, are brief yet lovely, particularly the dream-like opening and closing movements. Lonely Bay – in which each phrase reappears exactly 40 seconds later – is wonderfully contemplative, and Barley uses his fine ear for colour to make every nuance and gesture count. Metcalfe has achieved the unusual feat of creating electronic music that sounds organic and heartfelt, and in Barley he has a hugely persuasive advocate.
From the October 2010 issue. Subscribe to The Strad or download our digital edition as part of a 30-day free trial.