What, if there was an ideal example, would today's Modern Orchestral Mainstream be like? Does it make sense to try and pin such a thing down? There are so many shades of possibility these days that it may be nearly arbitrary to freeze the burgeoning creative tumlt, to boil it all down to just one thing. There are those composers who look way back and try to make it a part of now, those who look to the edge of the Modern, those joining onto what was once Avant Garde, those who try to keep creating some future specific utterances, etc.
Ideally one should listen to every unfamiliar new work with an open mind, without some attempt to pigeonhole it. I had friends, mostly now gone, who liked to try and tag a work as being "like" another work. But of course that does not mean that having drawn a line from the work to another that one can stop thinking about it. After all we are all in our musical lives the accumulation of every music we have ever heard and some we have not but that influenced some other music. So what, then?
All this is a prelude for a new orchestral offering I have been enjoying--Mythologies (Avie M2434) by Anna Clyne, a living composer (b. 1980) very much proceeding under her own original steam, judging from this one. It is music that is dramatic, tonal yet at times with a determined audacity and brash insistence. On the cover of the CD the style is described effectively. It reads "Clyne's music seems to disentangle older styles to spin new stories from their raw materials, her melodies distilled out of collective memory, yet distilled with the high-voltage energy of our overstimulated time." That certainly r9ngs true to me as I listen.
Five works grace the program, and each has something to say, depictive, expansive, perhaps in a mainstream of one at present? The twenty-minute Violin Concerto "the Seamstress" is a definite high point, with Jennifer Koh sympathetically taking on the solo part and the whole making for a very dramatic and memorable totality. The four other works--"Masquerade" (in its world premiere), "This Midnight Hour," "Night Ferry" and "<<rewind<<" are each worthy living, breathing embodiments of orchestral expression today. Clyne is a master orchestrator and fashions from her fertile imagination multiple realms of compelling sound poetics.
Most certainly this grouping of works and their spirited readings by the BBC Philharmonic goes a long way to affirm Anna Clyne as a major voice of her generation. Anglophiles take note, or anyone seeking the new orchestral sensibilities out there.
This is a definite must for a nice slab of what is new and good. Do not miss it.