MDR Leipzig Radio Choir · Ear Massage Percussion Quartet · James Wood conductor
Yale Percussion Group · Robert Van Sice director
James Wood’s multi-faceted career has led him into an extraordinarily broad spectrum of musical activities, as conductor, composer, musicologist, instrument designer and percussionist.
Tongues of Fire (2001) is a work for symphonic chorus and percussion quartet, written for the 140th Anniversary of the Yale Glee Club. Conscious of the enormous tradition of American university Glee Clubs, and the part that gospel and spiritual music has played in it, Wood emphasizes America’s rich cultural diversity using the story of the Pentecost. The central text from The Acts of the Apostles is set in various languages, starting in Latin-American Spanish and splintering off into Hebrew, Maori, Jamaican English, Latin, Hungarian, Russian, German and French. A quartet of oil drums, plus cowbells, gongs, guiros and metal rods provide percussive timbral richness and power. These combine with a variety of vocal styles, including chanting, singing, hissing and whistling, to give the work a tribal feel.
Percussion sextet Cloud-Polyphonies explores the movements of large formations of organisms – whether animals, insects, birds, fish, water, steam or crowds of human beings. The first movement 'Starlings', is written for six marimbas and woodblocks, the second, 'Clouds', for metal instruments and prepared piano, and the third, 'Buffalo', for drums, simantras and bullroarers.
NOMINATED FOR BEST CONTEMPORARY RECORDING AT 2017 INTERNATIONAL CLASSICAL MUSIC AWARDS
'The visceral allure of this work [Tongues of Fire], reminded me, at times, of everything from Balinese monkey chant and early Penderecki to the Missa Luba. It grabs you, initially, as a lush sonic banquet, and ends by making a deep spiritual impression … the percussionists thrill in a way that is both aesthetic and athletic' Fanfare
"Brilliant scoring, superbly realised" BBC Radio 3 Record Review
'An especially virtuoso moment in Wood's exuberant choral writing is constantly propelled by his equally inventive writing for the percussion quartet playing on oil drums, from which they extract an amazing range of textures and colours' The Guardian
'James Wood writes pieces of bristling rhythm and taut, colourful percussive effects' Gramophone
'[Tongues of Fire] brings out a Pan-American sensibility in Wood's writing ... His aesthetic is an imaginative and purposeful one, which helps the listener to find compelling through-lines in each of his works' Sequenza 21
'This is vibrant, vital music' Classical Modern Music Review
Tongues of Fire was recorded at Peterskirche, Leipzig, Germany on 5-7 November, 2014
MICHAEL SILBERHORN Recording Producer
MATHIAS METZNER Recording Engineer
OLIVER HILBICH, JOHANNES PHILLIPP Recording Technicians
JAMES WOOD Editing
Cloud-Polyphonies was recorded at Sprague Memorial Hall, New Haven, CT, USA on 3-5 June, 2013
EUGENE KIMBALL Recording Engineer
JAMES WOOD Recording Producer & editing
COLIN MATTHEWS Executive Producer for NMC
FRANCOIS HALL Graphic design