…Sadie Harrison’s own Taking Flight aspires to a profounder kind of utterance. Arcosolia gets a second performance from Peter Sheppard Skæved and Aaron Shorr. This is a more sharply-etched interpretation, and benefits from a dryer, clearer acoustic. The violin-piano configuration is also found on the delicate Traceries , and these pieces are, I reckon, the most successful Born in Australia in 1965 and now based in London, this is the first disc devoted entirely to Harrison’s music – many Metier discs are pioneering in this way, notably Geoffrey Poole’s outstanding Septembral, reviewed in last month’s Classical In Brief. While not yet as individual a voice as his, or as wide-ranging in her sources of inspiration, Harrison’s music is often beguiling and has vivid extra-musical resonances. She’s in the category of what could be described as domesticated modernism – tonal composers who are aware of modernist gestures while aware of the danger of audience-alienation.
Taking Flight is a string quartet, performed with sensitivity by the Kreutzer Quartet. It transforms ‘reminiscences’ from composers such as Birtwistle, Roberto Gerhard and Debussy, and seems particularly suffused with Bartok’s soundworld. Impresa Amorosa for solo piano is a set of characterful miniatures. The disc concludes with the exotic-sounding Aster for soprano, flute, violin, viola anc cello, which sets poems from a Byzantine anthology. With a second disc shortly in production, Harrison is a composer to look out for.