International Record Review

Michael Finnissy has been well served by Divine Art: ‘Unknown Ground’ is about the tenth disc devoted to him. His sometimes simplistic, sometimes ultra-complex music tackles serious issues: the title track is an AIDS-aware song cycle, thoughtfully interpreted here by baritone Richard Jackson.

Listeners feeling actual words (however sensitively handled) to be something of an obstacle to entering Finnissy’s timeless sound-world could instead start with the 27-minute Kritik der Urteilskraft (‘Critique of Judgement’), which assembles a sparse and slowly shifting kaleidoscope (lyrical cello to the fore, as in the song cycle) over an intermittent clarinet drone. A propos de Nice is a startling contrast, an occasionally static but often manic 22-minute piano trio invoking, fragmenting and shuffling the world of John Vigo’s 1930 silent film of the same name.

Performances from the New Music Players under director Ed Hughes are all any composer could desire.

—Michael Round