BMS Newsletter

Over the last two decades the discography of music by Christopher Fox has developed into a unique portrait of a highly respected composer. This most recent release, Headlong, chronicles eight of Fox’s works composed between 1980 and 2015 for solo clarinet, performed here by Heather Roche.

The disc is excellently produced by Aaron Holloway-Nahum and is a masterclass on the importance of responding to opportunities: when a composer is lucky enough to work in tandem with a talented, sympathetic and responsive artist, the compositional possibilities are endless. Throughout all eight works, composed over the years for a number of gifted clarinettists, Fox responds to a number of intriguing stimuli from art to mathematical equations with his unique brand of musical invention, exploiting the exceptionally broad range of opportunities afforded by the clarinet family. Fox explores every aspect of the instrument’s capabilities in terms of pitch, rhythm, and timbre, consistently stretching limits in the pursuit of engaging musical soundscapes.

Heather Roche responds to the challenge admirably with tour de force commitment and skill, giving all of these works performances for which any composer would be grateful. The standard of musicianship is exemplary, and the disc is a valuable and welcome addition to the Fox discography. The accompanying booklet provides essential explanatory notes by Fox on each work, as well as detailed biographies of composer, performer and, happily, producer, a welcome act of recognition I would encourage other record labels to undertake.

For those who may wish to explore Fox’s music in other mediums, personal recommendations of my own include the choral work A Glimpse of Sion’s Glory (Exaudi, dir. James Weeks, NMC – NMC D114) and a selection of music for piano and voice, You, Us, Me (Amanda Crawley, voice, Ian Pace, piano (Métier – MSVCD 92031). Of additional interest, in 2016 Routledge published a book of essays (edited by Rose Dodd) exploring Fox’s work, Perspectives on the Music of Christopher Fox: Straight Lines in Broken Times.

—Andrew King