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George Benjamin - Sudden Time / Three Inventions

Sudden Time / Three Inventions
Sudden Time, an orchestral work conceived in 1983 but not completed for another decade, was the first result of Benjamin’s decade-long process of musical self-examination. The title refers to a poem by Wallace Stevens: “It was like sudden time in a world without time”, and Benjamin recalls how the work was inspired “by a dream in which the sound of a thunderclap seemed to stretch . . . as if in a spiral through my head. I then awoke, and realized that I was experiencing the first second of a real thunderclap.” This sense of time simultaneously condensed and extended is magically realized in the fugitive and contradictory pulses which flow through an orchestral landscape of characteristic luxuriance and originality.

If a certain sense of musical effort can still be heard in sections of Sudden Time, no such reservations attach to Benjamin’s next work, Three Inventions, a marvellously fluent and original work for chamber orchestra. There’s an acute sense of musical drama here, in the diaphanous plucked textures and mournful fluegelhorn solo of the first invention, for example; or in the evanescent gong-strokes and mighty bass-drum blows which punctuate, and eventually terminate, the third.

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Three Inventions; Sudden Time; Upon Silence; Octet: Bickley; Fretwork; London Sinfonietta; London Philharmonic Orchestra; Benjamin (Nimbus NI 5505).

Benjamin and the London Sinfonietta again, with John Wallace taking the flugelhorn solo in Three Inventions. The disc also includes performances of both versions of Upon Silence – one for viol consort, one for modern strings (Susan Bickley the excellent soloist singer in both) and the Octet from 1979. View Full Product Details