The Wire

This disc by British oboist Christopher Redgate borrows its title from a riddle-packed Michael Finnissy composition. As Redgate plays material elaborated from Korean traditional music – microtonal inflections to the fore – a pianist mashes up late Beethoven piano sonatas and percussion thuds evoke the ‘hammer blows of fate’ from Mahler’s Symphony No 6, while remaining instruments drop in rhythmic loops derived from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. Finnissy keeps his intentions vague, but if, as I suspect, the point is to reclaim authenticity from material expressively blunted through over-exposure, it’s a point powerfully made.

The four layers are unified by the end, but retain their inner integrities. Christopher Fox’s elegant Oboe Quintet weaves enigmatic note patterns through a textbook classical structure, while James Clarke’s Quintet sounds inoffensive enough – until a long silence (if ever a pause was pregnant, it’s this one) and a bloodcurdling ensemble screech tip the music into darker terrain.

—Philip Clark