Interleaved with traditional vocal and instrumental music from Afghanistan, Sadie Harrison’s trilogy, inspired by the life and writings of the Afghani warrior-poet Zahiru’d-din Muhammad Babur, evokes the same raw-edged sound world. Wind instruments are pushed into their highest registers, while skirling, abrasive strings bulk out the textures. The instrumentalists are also required to shout out texts while they play.
The opening piece The Light Garden, for a quintet of wind, strings and piano, takes its title from an inscription on Babur’s tomb. The second, The 14th Terrace,f or clarinet and ensemble, refers to the garden outside Kabul where he is buried, while the solo-violin Bavad Khair Baqi! recapitulates material from the earlier works, in a virtuoso context. It is distinctive, pungent music that demands close attention.