“Funérailles refers to an imaginary ritual glimpsed from afar, and the way in which the harp punctuates the strings' held notes and outbursts… certainly has something of a ritual's spellbinding quality about it. It’s the richness of detail that first strikes the listener unaccustomed to Ferneyhough's idiom, making Funérailles a good introduction. All in all, a valuable and worthwhile issue.”
“One of the particular attractions of this disc is its delineation of contrasts and continuities between Brian Ferneyhough's earlier and later compositions. The two Funérailles, which he worked on between 1969 and 1980, show the composer emerging from a turbulent expressionism which has affinities with the style of his principal teacher, Klaus Huber, into the kind of hyperfractured yet remarkably coherent manner of his full maturity. Ferneyhough doesn't approve of the two pieces being heard without other music in between, but even if his wishes are disregarded the second piece emerges as an extraordinarily radical analysis of its predecessor, bringing out the kind of aggressive eloquence that confirms Ferneyhough's position as one of the most resourceful expressionists of our time. Bone Alphabet (1991) is a study of how register, colour and rhythm manifest themselves structurally in the absence of precise pitch patterns. The booklet-notes, tied as they are to certain timed events in the performance, are useful here, even if they risk suggesting that the music contains more obvious and extreme contrasts than this recording conveys. With Unsichtbare Farben (1999) we are in the instrumental sound world that Ferneyhough has made his own, the paradoxical title – invisible colours – hinting at a music that aspires to transcend sound itself. It's not exactly that 'unheard melodies are sweeter' but that a music that constantly reaches towards silence can, under the right conditions, have a particularly poignant intensity. These performances are in safe, experienced hands, and the recordings are well conceived to convey the music's special refinements.”
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