Claire M Singer – Solas

Posted: 7 October 2016 in Albums
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Touch – TO:101

James Wells

It’s perhaps due to the formulaic nature of television dramas that a certain type of orchestral music has become almost a signifier for rolling countryside, and people in bouffy dresses and full skirts or frock coats and hats riding horses, brawling in taverns and battling high seas, or otherwise taking the and bidding one another ‘good day’. Such pieces are then played, ad infinitum, on commercial classical radio as exemplars of contemporary classical music. It’s by no means the fault of the composers or musicians: it’s inevitable in the arts that commissions and funded projects will determine the outlets of their work.

The medium isn’t always the message, though, and while the pieces featured here are largely products of specific commissions, Claire M Singer’s work retains a strong focus on her own compositional interests: (quote from press). Imposing strings, bold and evocative sweep and arc through ‘A Different Place,’ as rousing percussion drums a rolling, thunderous tattoo. ‘Ceo’ is an altogether sparser composition which casts a more gloomy atmosphere, and the title track is an extended meditation on the album’s theme (‘Solas’ translates as ‘light’ from the Gaelic) and Singer’s instruments of choice. The organ’s majestic grandeur is very much brought to the fore, and resonates on a deep, subconscious level.

The slow-building sweep of ‘Eilean’ is gentle yet at the same time subtly stirring, flowing into the humming swell of the solo organ piece of ‘Wrangham’. Disc two contains just one track, ‘The Molendiner’, co-commissioned by Glasgow art gallery The Civic Room and Union Chapel, London, which spans twenty-six minutes. Centred around ‘the precise control of wind though the pipes’ of the organ, it utilises various organ types to create a vast sonic expanse, which hangs, drawing out an immense mid-tone humming drone. This probably doesn’t sound like the greatest advocation, but trust me, it’s subtly powerful, and as a whole, Solas is a moving collection of works.

 

Claire M Singer - Solas

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