The Strad Issue: January 2009
Musicians: Darragh Morgan (violin) Mary Dullea (piano)
I hadn’t come across composer Paul Whitty, but the booklet note informs that he is director of Sonic Art Research at Oxford Brookes, and, more startlingly, his work has found its way into spaces and contexts including the freezer compartment of a fridge in Romford and the traffic gyratory at Vauxhall Cross.
In thirty-nine pages he explains that he has ‘filtered and re-organised’ each page of the Henle Urtext Edition of Franck’s Violin Sonata in A major, and adds that the resulting 38 movements can be played in any order.
Violinist Darragh Morgan and pianist Mary Dullea go to work on this intriguing material with panache. Both are veterans of new music, and Morgan has led the Ensemble Modern and London Sinfonietta, among others contemporary music outfits. The work is beautifully performed and spaciously recorded, Morgan’s eloquent tone giving subtle nuances to the simplest of details, and the players shape Whitty’s mix of fragmentary phrases and mechanistic gestures with the care of uncovering precious artefacts millimetre by millimetre.
Glimmers of Franck’s original surface in this delicately put together and intricate set of movements, but Morgan and Dullea capture the sorrow at its heart, of something always hiding beneath the surface, forever just out of reach.