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This CD, dedicated to works of contemporary British composer Nigel Osborne (born 1948), is the third release in the acclaimed partnership between the Hebrides Ensemble and Delphian Records, following hot on the heels of the first two, highlighting compositions by James MacMillan and Peter Maxwell Davies. Apart from being an established musician, Osborne has also made a name for himself as an avid traveller, digesting both the natural beauty of the places he has visited, and also human events that left a mark on the world's history. A prime example of the latter is the Adagio for Vedran Smailović (1993). Written in Sarajevo in the winter of 1992-93, the composer visited the city several times during the Bosnian War, a period recalled in the 2001 Balkan Dances and Laments.
Listen — Nigel Osborne: Balkan Dances and Laments
(track 12, 5:49-6:43) © 2019 Delphian Records Ltd :
In Sarajevo and Mostar, Osborne developed a practice of music therapy for children that he has subsequently taken to war zones in Africa and the Middle East. Music's ability to cross boundaries - to bridge nations and continents, to bear witness and to heal - lies at the heart of this album, which also includes an element of dance and song. Indeed, in the sung interludes one can hear the voice of the composer himself.
Listen — Nigel Osborne: My beloved, where are you going
(track 18, 0:20-1:18) © 2019 Delphian Records Ltd :
With programmes that are diverse, imaginative and inspiring, Hebrides Ensemble has established an enviable reputation as one of the foremost exponents of contemporary chamber music, and the beguiling and vivid performances on this issue certainly leave no doubt as to their exceptional ability on how to make difficult music acceptable even to the most squeamish.
Listen — Nigel Osborne: Sensations of Travel (The Piano Tuner)
(track 3, 0:00-0:28) © 2019 Delphian Records Ltd :
Mind you, listening to this programme was not a relaxing experience, but after all, Osborne's creations were never meant to be so. One piece of vital advice: do read the annotations, if you want to really appreciate Osborne's hugely varied palette of musical sounds. Nevertheless, a bit of caution would certainly not go amiss.
Copyright © 30 May 2019