By Greg Cahill | From the March-April 2021 issue of Strings magazine
Anna Clyne’s Mythologies kicks off with the symphonic sweep of Masquerade, a sprawling orchestral fantasia commissioned in 2013 by the BBC to open the “Last Night” of the Proms. It’s marked by a cinematic swirl of strings that propels the listener into the five individual works on this disc, which play like movements of a scintillating symphony.
Clyne, 40, honed her craft on electro-acoustic music. She is a Grammy-nominated British composer and cellist with an uncanny knack for penning melodies that sound both old and new. On these works, recorded for BBC Radio between 2011 and 2018, she teams with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, under Marin Alsop, and Jennifer Koh on solo violin. Clyne’s dynamic sound can range from pastoral to turbulent, marked by sudden mood swings, but never jarring. The forward drive of Masquerade, evoking an exuberant spirit and stirring the imagination, is continued on The Midnight Hour, a 2015 commission by the Seattle Symphony and Orchestre national d’Île-de-France. Those mood swings also inform the dramatic Night Ferry, a 2012 Chicago Symphony Orchestra commission designed to complement Franz Schubert’s own stormy emotions.
The Seamstress is a work written for violin. Inspired by personal loss, it opens with a dark, fiddle-like folk melody played in the low registers before resolving into high acrobatics. Clyne retains her command of melody throughout. The closer, <<rewind, is a forceful orchestral work underpinned by a flurry of violins and punctuated by the types of eerie slides commonly heard on electronic work. The turbulence forms a sonic hurricane that surrounds a solitary violin rising above the morass. It’s the perfect conclusion to an exhilarating collection of new orchestral works from one of the best young composers of our time.
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