Errollyn Wallen: Photography CD review – fine portrait of a wide-ranging artist

Orchestra X/Kok/Headlam

“Music seemed to yank me towards it,” writes the Belize-born British composer Errollyn Wallen, and the unselfconscious plain-speak of her work chimes true with that statement. Her writing sounds instinctive. Moods are blatant, gestures are unambiguous, she pinches from baroque, jazz, film, romantic and minimalist idioms and wears those influences bright and proud on her sleeve.

cellist Matthew Sharp
Nuanced soliloquy … cellist Matthew Sharp Photograph: PR Company Handout

Some passages risk straight-up pastiche and the chugging rhythmic stuff wears thin when there isn’t enough else going on, but this album – the first devoted entirely to Wallen’s orchestral music – features vibrant performances from the ensemble she established to play her work. Overall, it’s a fine portrait of a wide-ranging artist. The Cello Concerto opens with a bold and nuanced soliloquy from cellist Matthew Sharp and in the touching final piece, In Earth, Wallen herself sings Dido’s Lament. Her voice is breathy, intimate and immediate while echoey rumbles from bass guitarist Tim Harries smudge the edges of Purcell’s melody.


Kate Molleson

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Portrait of the artist: Errollyn Wallen, composer

'My high point? Seeing a copy of my album floating in a shuttle in outer space'

Interview by Laura Barnett

28, Jul, 2008 @11:01 PM

Article image
Donizetti: Le Duc d'Albe CD review – strong and emotionally wide-ranging

Erica Jeal

03, Mar, 2016 @6:45 PM

Article image
The Paradis Files review – Graeae and Wallen breathe life into a woman of spirit and courage
The story of the blind composer, singer and business woman Maria Theresia von Paradis is told in this lively but uneven chamber opera by Errollyn Wallen

Tim Ashley

14, Apr, 2022 @1:46 PM

Article image
Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman: Tomorrow Will Follow Today review – skilled and wide-ranging
They somehow manage to switch from Russian mermaids to sexual innuendo in an eclectic set of songs

Robin Denselow

26, Feb, 2015 @6:00 PM

Article image
Tom Service on British classical music label New Music Cassettes

You wait ages for a British composer to write a song - then 96 come along at once. Tom Service on an ambitious project to revitalise a dying art

Tom Service

30, Mar, 2009 @11:01 PM

Article image
Anti-empire, anti-fascist, pro-suffragist: the stunning secret life of Proms staple Jerusalem
Why is Jerusalem lumped in with the jingoism of Last Night of the Proms? William Blake wrote a heretical, anti-establishment anthem that was later gifted to the suffragists and used to rouse fighters in the Spanish civil war

Jason Whittaker

05, Sep, 2022 @4:00 PM

Article image
Beatrice Rana: Prokofiev and Tchaikovsky Concertos review – wide-screen, high-definition performances
The 22-year-old pianist justifies the star-is-born noise around her, with playing that has a perfectly weighted brilliance and a glint in its eye

Erica Jeal

10, Dec, 2015 @6:20 PM

Massenet: Le Portrait de Manon; Berlioz: Les Nuits d'Eté – review
Pablo Bemsch shines in a revival of Massenet's Manon, while Volker Krafft conducts an intense take on Les Nuits d'Eté, writes Tim Ashley

Tim Ashley

07, Mar, 2013 @9:45 PM

Portrait of the artist: Mary Plazas, soprano

Mary Plazas, soprano

Interview by Laura Barnett

13, Mar, 2007 @11:56 PM

Portrait of an artist: Jonas Kaufmann, tenor

Jonas Kaufmann, tenor

Interview by Laura Barnett

19, May, 2008 @11:53 PM