The Cry of Anubis/Birtwistle

June 18, 2011

Harrison Birtwistle, modern British composer, has taken the ‘standard classical’ form for this work and abandoned it in favor of a dramatic one which can fall into no particular category.

Anibus is the jackal-headed god of the city of the dead in Egypt and is the central figure in this unusual symphonic work. If you’re not familiar with his work I caution you to proceed slowly and give this work several listens before judging as it is a unique experience. The orchestral arrangement features the tuba (Owen Slade soloist) that represents Anibus and it is scored for double woodwinds and no trombones. I carefully avoided the word concerto because it really isn’t even though the tuba is a prominent part of the work; ever growling and making its presence felt throughout the entire thirteen minute piece which also features timpani. On first listen I heard a lot of dissonance and the composition made little sense to me at all which is why I urge patience with this opus originally composed for an educational concert. Further listens opened my ears to what Harrison was trying to say and he certainly succeeded.

The NMC release (D156) also includes “Night’s Black Bird” and “The Shadow of Night” which will be reviewed separately. The Halle orchestra was conducted by Ryan Wigglesworth and this release is available for direct purchase either as a CD or digital download.




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