CD Review – En Masse: Offspring Bites 3

En Masse: Offspring Bites 3
Ensemble Offspring
ensembleoffspring.com

★★★★

Written by Paul Cooke

There are three works here, the third in Ensemble Offspring’s series of specially commissioned chamber works. Two composed for sextet. One of them, Alex Pozniak’s En Masse, gives the collection its name. It’s a 30-minute piece in three movements, the instruments working with a common purpose to create music of weight and seriousness. Percussion and percussive piano – rhythmic and bottom-heavy – provide bedrock and backbone, while the other instruments weave a filigree of sound around this.

Holly Harrison’s Bend/Boogie/Break is, by comparison, rather playful. As its title suggests, we find glissandi and pitch bending over funky bass rhythms before a quiet, slow, rather mysterious passage gives way to a frenetic coda.
Thomas Meadowcroft’s Medieval Rococo, the final work, dispenses with the strings and adds discreet electronics, providing us with another sound world. Alto flute and clarinet provide a pliable firmament, while tuned percussion and a harpsichord-sounding keyboard sparkle like stars.

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