Gramophone

Now in his mid- thirties, David Gorton is a composer working in the more radical domain of post-war British music. This new disc provides an entrée into his recent output, opening with the evocation of weapons testing and UFO sightings connected with the Suffolk coastal area that is Orfordness — its interplay of febrile activity and inward stasis more convincing than the rather gratuitous interpolation for tape at its centre. Austerity Measures II might be construed as an oboe quintet but the oboe part was written for the `Howarth-Redgate’ instrument that Christopher Redgate plays exclusively, while the piece itself amalgamates three earlier works whose contrasted ensembles underlie the unstable repetitions in which this music abounds.

Taking the name of an area near to where the composer grew up, Fosdyke Wash is even more intensive a rethinking of the piano quintet — with the mainly quiet and inward writing for the strings given continuity by the recourse to harmonics and bowed sounds of the piano-writing. After which piece, the Second Cello Sonata inhabits an altogether more dynamic realm over its 10 sections that, between them, pursue an unpredictable trajectory, one made more so by the role of electronics in its opening-out of the textural facets encountered as this piece unfolds.

Gorton makes no concessions to his performers — not that those heard here require any ‘easy options’ when it comes to realising such intricate and exacting pieces. Excellent sound and detailed notes also complement the interpretative conviction needed for this unequivocal music.

—Richard Whitehouse