Sullen Earth - Ian Wilson (RVRCD80)

Blistered and bent into quartertones, the buckling solo line in Ian Wilson's2005 violin concerto "Sullen Earth" picks obsessively at fragile, folk like figures before bursting into lyricism against the wheezing, accordion-like harmonies of the string orchestra.

It's a bold work,and a bold performance from Gordana Matijevic-Nedeljkovic and the Belgrade Strings, who also accompany pianist Hugh Tinney in Wilson's subdued "Limena" (1998). Disturbing and cute, "The Capsizing Man?" sees Wilson at his most accessible.


The Independent – review, 6th August, 2009 By Anna Picard

Two years ago, Riverrun released a disc of Ian Wilson's string quartets - four of them - and has now brought together three of his works involving string orchestra. Wilson's style has changed since 1999, when he was forced by Nato bombing to leave Belgrade and return to Ireland. The later music seems rougher hewn: less concerned with making formal patterns and more with expressing what it wants to say directly, often by boldly juxtaposing contrasting kinds of music material. That technique is seen in Sullen Earth for violin and strings, from 2005, in which everything is pared down to its emotional core, allowing the highly wrought textures to relax just once for an archaic-sounding lyrical interlude. Limena, from 1998, expands a solo piano by surrounding it with muted string textures, while the five taut miniatures that make up The Capsizing Man and Other Stories are all inspired by Giacometti sculptures.

The Guardian, 21st August, 2009, By Andrew Clements

Commissioned by the Serbian musical forces in ardent evidence here, Ian Wilson's 2005 Sullen Earth is an archetype of a more recent compositional process that focuses on "stand-alone" building blocks of musical thought. The result is a distillation of conventional narrative or technical development into raw cells of emotion. Here combined with piano and strings, a more melodically florid affair, and the suite, 'The Capsizing Man', itself a juxtaposition of five concisely contemplated ideas, the disc is a well-balanced recital in itself. The added bonus is the presence of the composer as conductor. (5/5)

Sunday Tribune, 23rd August 2009 by Karen Dervan

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