Steven Schick, James Wood,
Darmstadt Percussion Ensemble, Cornwall Percussion Ensemble,
Clive Williamson, Paul Webster, Eleanor Alberga, Helen Crayford (kbds)
John Whiting (sound engineer)
Wergo: WER 6194-2
Price: 15.00 EUR (including delivery)
Stoicheia is one of those rare, but very exciting pieces in which the attempt to build itself from first principles produces a work whose tremendous richness of listening experience enables it to communicate at very different levels... The experience of Stoicheia not only substantiates its conceptual grandeur, but it entrances the listener by the beauty of sound and its fascinating rhythms and timbres.
Sara Stowe, soprano James Wood, percussion New London Chamber Choir James Wood, conductor
Continuum: CCD 1037
Price: 15.00 EUR (including delivery)
Choroi kai Thaliai - a declamatory tour de force for soprano soloist, percussion and taped voices, describing yet another night of pagan festivities but with an exhilarating rhythmic vitality that is utterly compelling and, almost literally, heart-stopping. Choroi kai Thaliai proved to be an enthralling work...
Michael John White, The Guardian, 26 June 1982
Ho shang Yao ... appeared the more perfect achievement. Again the appeal is to an ancient culture, but now Chinese: Ho shang Yao is a setting of pre-Confucian poems in the original... The music is based on a quartertone-flavoured pentatonic scale... a totally successful means of achieving a genuinely new simplicity, a transparent clarity detached from any western tradition.
Percussive Rotterdam's performance of James Wood's Village Burial with Fire... a ritual composition which connects European and non-European traditions...was extraordinary.
---Heinz Zietsch, Darmstadter Echo
One of the greatest artists of his generation, Robert van Sice presented Spirit Festival with Lamentations...conceived as an ancestral pagan rite, it excites all the dramatic and expressive resources of the musicians. Superb!
---Martine Dumont & Thierry Lassence, La Libre
'Men from Rotterdam excel'...well played, as this was, it is irresistible
---Lynna Sedlak, Buffalo News
Two men meet...
Two men meet, each presuming the other to be from a distant planet
Venancio Mbande talking with the trees
Kuniko Kato, marimba
Steven Schick, percussion New London Chamber Choir Critical Band James Wood, conductor
Price: 20.00 EUR (including delivery)
James Wood is a distinctive presence on the British musical scene, and this disc offers the best opportunity yet to explore his challenging but never incoherent compositions. ...the quality of thought and the sensitivity to design as well as texture should reassure you that Wood is a real composer, as well as a fine performer, and the recordings could hardly be better. The plan of Two men meet, to proceed from confrontation to reconciliation, could be simplistically schematic, but the subtlety of the interactions between soloist and orchestra makes this a consistently absorbing and appealing score. In Venancio Mbande talking with the trees, the blend of intricate thought and clear, purposeful structure is if anything even more satisfying, with a poetic quality to the writing that lingers in the mind.
The Gramophone, December 1997
Composer, conductor, virtuoso percussionist and inventor of percussion instruments, James Wood is an all-round musical explorer of a philosophical cast of mind yet with an ardent, Messiaen-like sensibility. He favours elaborate (often microtonal) but richly sensuous textures and grand, totalising structures. For him, each piece is an ambitious synthesis of music and the world: literally, in that he draws on sources from across the globe, as pointedly evidenced on this compliation by Venancio Mbande talking with the Trees, a concerto whose quarter-tone marimba soloist (Kuniko Kato) stands for the Mozambican timbila player mentioned in the title. In Two men meet, each presuming the other to be from a distant planet Steven Schick is the soloist in a 24-minute movement of fascinating and always right-sounding complexity, which becomes a Birtwistle-like scherzo in its latter part.
James Wood employs 12 different birdsongs and star patterns from which to derive the melodic and harmonic elements of his piece. Flute and clarinet engage with violin and cello in an intricate discourse, the piano providing an enfolding resonance in the more inward passages - the two types of musical motion finding an equivocal accommodation in the closing minutes.