Catalogue Corner No. 4 | Errollyn Wallen: PHOTOGRAPHY

22nd September 2022

Features NMC Recordings

After a short hiatus, Catalogue Corner is back. In this series we take a look at the extensive NMC catalogue and pick out an album to shine new light on. Each month, you're able to buy the featured recording for a special discounted price so that you can listen to this release anew. After featuring two bastions of 20th century composition in Harrison Birtwistle and Benjamin Britten, we then turned our attention to the here and now with Kate Whitley This month we're capturing the visual, experimental, and raw. Catalogue Corner No.4 is Errollyn Wallen: PHOTOGRAPHY (NMCD221).

Released in March 2016, PHOTOGRAPHY  features the ensemble that Wallen started herself, Ensemble X. Its motto, 'we don't break down barriers in music... we don't see any', reflects Wallen's free-spirited approach and eclectic musicianship that is abundant in this release. 

Wallen’s music is both immediately familiar and entirely original. She combines popular styles, aspects of minimalism, baroque counterpoint, modernist rhythms, and lush romantic textures and draws on influences around her. Many of the works on this album have personal associations and are written for the long-standing musical collaborators and friends from Ensemble X who appear on this recording.

Errolyn Session

Nicholas Kok conducting Orchestra X with Matthew Sharp as Soloist at Henry Wood Hall

PHOTOGRAPHY was Wallen's first album of purely orchestral works on NMC. She had previously featured on the NMC Songbook (NMCD150) and was a featured composer at 2014's New Music Biennial with Are you worried about the rising costs of funerals?

Kate Molleson stated in the Guardian upon its release that 'This album – the first devoted entirely to Wallen's orchestral music – features vibrant performances ... a fine portrait of a wide-ranging artist'. 

This is seen in abundance in Matthew Sharp's interpretation of her Cello Concerto. The music itself combines passion and beauty with a fearless, rigorous technique. 

In the words of John Butt in the album's liner notes, 'the unaccompanied gestures from the cello tradition of Bach to Britten are sequenced with bluesy ostinatos, angular modernist jolts and a lush string texture that might recall something of the bucolic world of English music a century ago.'

Matthew Sharp

Matthew Sharp performing Errollyn Wallen's Cello Concerto

As Wallen puts it herself - 'I often dive into composing a piece of music without knowing where I am going structurally. I believe and trust in my intuition and the fact that I do know at a deep and non-linguistic level exactly what it is that I want to achieve. I have learned that starting is what is important and that it is how one manipulates the material that defines the process.'

See her interview with Max Reinhardt taken from the recording session in 2015 below. 

A chance encounter and spontaneous creation that came out off the back of PHOTOGRAPHY was the film below created by Trapeze Films. Trapeze is made up of graduates of Birmingham Conservatoire and they create videos to help promote music and the arts around Birmingham and the rest of the UK. 

The team at Trapeze were introduced to Wallen at Frontiers Festival in 2016 following a concert of her music and songs. The next day, whilst finalising a tribute to Birmingham Central Library, Wallen sprung on them out of the blue for a meeting. Flying through various ideas and concepts at great speed a sudden idea of "Jelly Beans" was put to Trapeze by Wallen. Within the hour, a large box of jelly beans was sent to them and the race to complete the film in a week commenced!

Alongside a 20% discount for this release on the NMC shop, we're also offering a further discount on all of the releases Errolyn Wallen has contributed to in the NMC catalogue for you to enjoy.

Get 20% off Errollyn Wallen on NMC

NMC's Discover platform is created in partnership with ISM Trust.

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