A Manchester Collective founder makes waves in her solo debut

The Strad Recommends: Rakhi Singh: Purnima


The Strad Issue: January 2024

Description: A Manchester Collective founder makes waves in her solo debut

Musicians: Rakhi Singh (violin)

Works: Music by Gordon, Groves, Hall, Singh and Wolfe

Catalogue number: CANTALOUPE MUSIC CA21193


Music director and Manchester Collective co-founder Rakhi Singh is also a formidable solo violinist, as this compelling and at times deeply moving Anglo-American disc demonstrates. It’s released on New York-based Bang on a Can’s Canteloupe Music, and its second half is devoted to two of that organisation’s founders. Julia Wolfe’s LAD is fast becoming a 21st-century classic – originally for nine bagpipes, it’s slightly softer and more thoughtful in Singh’s own version for multitracked violins, though her account lacks nothing of the original’s wall-of-sound monumentality. This is bookended by two short pieces by Wolfe’s husband, Michael Gordon – the bright and breezy, samba-inspired Tinge, and the aching Light Is Calling, whose floating melodies show off Singh’s simple eloquence to fine effect.

The disc’s all-British first half is no less impressive. Singh navigates the glistening tremolos of Alex Groves’s Trace I with radiant confidence, highlighting otherworldly details in what might have simply been ambient textures. She offers a strongly spoken account of Emily Hall’s folk-like, three-movement OutShifts in a rich and perceptive performance. Singh’s own Sabkha feels all too brief, a sonically gorgeous blend of rippling arpeggios, unpredictable harmonies and electronic washes.

Captured in warm, close sound, Purnima offers a collection of pieces that captivate and challenge, and demand you to return to again and again.

David Kettle