Luke Bedford’s pieces Wonderful Two-Headed Nightingale, By the Screen in the Sun at the Hill on the Gold, Chiaroscuro, Man Shoots Strangers from Skyscraper and Or Voit Tout en Aventure have been released on a new CD on col-legno. The critic Andrew Clements writes: "Compiled from concert recordings, it makes a valuable introduction to his luminous soundworld, and goes a long way to explaining why he is so highly rated among the younger generation of British composers."
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Excerpts from Colin Clarke’s review for Tempo:
Wonderful Two-headed Nightingale: […] The hyper-gestural opening, the minimalist-influenced shards of accompaniment that underpin yearning, quasi-Romantic solo lines all speak of a major imagination at work. […] This live performance is simply remarkable in its intensity.
By the Screen in the Sun at the Hill on the Gold: […] Bedford takes the simple device of arpeggio and saturates his texture with it. The irregularity of the repetitions make the work’s form of hypnosis (for it does have one, in its repetitions of cells) rather removed from that of the mainstream minimalists; the work’s surface is glistening and huge, moving to manic passages in which the pitch rises to the extreme top end in a series of explosions. This top-class recording (Alte Oper, Frankfurt) was made the day after the world première.
Chiaroscuro: […] Juxtaposing [piano, violin, violoncello] shows the true range of Bedford’s expressive vocabulary.
Or voit tout en aventure: […] Perhaps most impressive is the almost Mahlerian processional of the fourth movement, "Je Chante Ung Chant" (I sing a song). This superbly produced disc confirms that Luke Bedford is a major voice.
Colin Clarke, Tempo, Volume 67, Issue 265, July 2013, pp 112-112
The one vocal work included is particularly appealing. Or Voit Tout en Aventure – meaning something like "everything is out of control" – sets ancient texts about music that lament the loss of tunefulness and consonance. Bedford’s setting are very direct and well disciplined but his luminously dissonant harmony offers a persuasive case for allowing music to evolve, to be modern and even – to a degree – challenging.
A similar simplicity – sometimes raw, as with the open strings of Wonderful Two-Headed Nightingale – is to be found throughout but always (in admirably polished and persuasive performances) with a distinctive blend of energy and eloquence.
(Arnold Whittall, Gramophone December 2012).
Bedford's piece for the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, Or Voit Tout en Aventure, which premiered last year, and which I heard at the Aldeburgh festival in June, is one of the most outstanding pieces by any young composer I've ever experienced – music of brooding expressive intensity and charged with that indefinable quality that makes a piece sound as if it was written out of sheer necessity.
(Tom Service, The Guardian 2007).
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