Dark Formations – Music by Ed Hughes


Catalogue No: MSV 28530
EAN/UPC: 809730853029
Artists: ,
Release Date: June 2012
Genres: , , ,
Discs: 2
Total Playing Time: 139:39

With rhythms simultaneously complex and simple, the music of Ed Hughes has a sound all of its own. This set features first recordings of many of Hughes’ most prominent works, performed by the New Music Players and New Music Vocal Ensemble, groups founded by the composer, and pianist Richard Casey in the extended (38 minute) piano cycle Orchids. The vocal ensemble present A Buried Flame, a major choral work of 25 minutes’ duration. Distinctive, original and yet extremely approachable, this is modern music as it should be.

Track Listing

    Ed Hughes:

  1. Quartet (7:55)
  2. I. Chamber Concerto – I (5:57)
  3. II. Chamber Concerto – II (4:56)
  4. III. Chamber Concerto – III (2:46)
  5. IV. Chamber Concerto – IV (2:57)
  6. Dark Formations (11:36)
  7. Strike! (12:57)
  8. I. Sextet – I (3:58)
  9. II. Sextet – II (4:07)
  10. III. Sextet – III (4:15)
  11. Light Cuts Through Dark Skies (12:04)
  12. I. Orchids – Orchid 1 (6:40)
  13. II. Orchids – Orchid 2 (6:42)
  14. III. Orchids – Orchid 3 (10:21)
  15. IV. Orchids – Orchid 4 (3:47)
  16. V. Orchids – Orchid 5 (6:56)
  17. VI. Orchids – Orchid 6 (6:01)
  18. I. A Buried Flame – Part 1 (6:16)
  19. II. A Buried Flame – Part 2 (7:53)
  20. III. A Buried Flame – Part 3 (4:29)
  21. IV. A Buried Flame – Part 4 (6:22)


International Record Review

Throughout both of these discs, performances are as committed and attentive to the music’s frequently understated demands as might be expected from ensembles of the calibre of the New Music Players and New Music Vocal Ensemble. Special mention must be made of Richard Casey, who, besides writing most of the detailed and informative booklet notes, proves no less adept and sympathetic as a pianist. The recordings, though made over more than a decade, fully convey this music’s clarity and intricacy, making for a release that can be warmly recommended for its persuasive overview of a composer for whom a wider reputation ought not be long in coming.

” —Richard Whitehouse
American Record Guide

Hughes’s music is most notable for its variability in dissonance. He is able to move seamlessly from what sounds completely atonal to triadic harmony that allows for accessible expression. Orchids alone makes the record worthwhile, and this two-disc set makes it easy to acquire a variety of music by a British composer from whom we can surely expect more high quality work to come.

” —Adams

Many of [Hughes’s] scores for reduced forces are no less striking and engaging [than his large-scale canvases), as evidence by the various pieces in Metier’s anthology. Evident gift for polyphonic texture. An inspiring, thoughtfully compiled programme. Ed Hughes lays down considerable challenges to performers and they are met here with virtuosity and imagination in ideal readings, polished and alert, which it is difficult to imagine being surpassed.. Consistently fine sound. This is a valuable survey of a composer whose unorthodox and resourceful music deservers to be better know.

” —Paul Conway
Musical Pointers

Ed Hughes is a contemporary British contrapuntalist of unique originality and instrumental flair. [His music] is all given with consummate security and audibility… I find the ensemble music irresistible.

” —Peter Grahame Woolf

Ed Hughes is a composer with an individual voice and a concise way of saying what he has to say. His music is compelling. The performance [of the chamber works] is remarkably assured. [Richard Casey] plays Hughes’ beautiful score [Orchids] with the utmost transparency. His myriad colourings are captured in the exemplary recording. The vocal piece A Buried Flame…demonstrates remarkably fine scoring… a powerful statement that reverberates long after the music finishes, A most stimulating release. I do urge you to hear this.

” —Colin Clarke