Stone, Salt & Sky: Beamish - Maconchy - Strachan - R Clarke

Formed in 2019, award-winning violin and cello duo GAIA have rapidly won plaudits for their pioneering programming and bold and daring performances.Their debut album release features three works specially written for the duo, and also bears testimony to their championing of works by underrepresented and overlooked voices from classical music’s past.

Elements of folk and jazz string-playing styles rub shoulders with traditional chamber-music imperatives in a programme that is full of women’s voices: those of the performers; of composers Sally Beamish, Rebecca Clarke and Elizabeth Maconchy; and of the singers of two Scottish folksongs, taped recordings of which frame Duncan Strachan’s hauntingly evocative Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.

GAIA Duo were Chamber Music Scotland Ensemble in Residence 2019–2021, and a Scottish Awards for New Music 2021 Nominee for Creative Programming.

"... only a few tracks into this debut disc by award-winning Scots-based duo GAIA – violinist Katrina Lee and cellist Alice Allen – and you’re transfixed. It’s not just the stimulating excitability of the music itself – mostly by women composers and fuelled variously by dizzy compulsion and intense textural imagery – but the duo’s own fiery confidence and tonal vocabulary that are so all-consuming. After the grittily contrasting Grotesque and Lullaby of Rebecca Clarke, the panoramic Celtic visions explored in Sally Beamish’s Stone, Salt and Sky, the disarming simplicity of Elizabeth Maconchy’s Duo (Theme and Variations), and GAIA’s own Monet-inspired soundscape Antibes, comes Duncan Strachan’s resourceful Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird, its mesmeric overlay of pre-recorded folksong offering fresh inducement to the very end ..."

"One of the joys of reviewing albums is that occasionally something completely floors me. This debut album is one example. Delphian has an excellent reputation for producing recordings featuring new composers as well as promoting up and coming talented artists and this CD amalgamates everything that the label stands for ... Beamish's evocative 'Horizon' immediately draws this listener to the coast where an eerie wind is blowing along the beach as one looks out on to the expansive landscapes that the composer wants us to imagine; she manages through use of folk idiom to create a superb representation of place. The intensity that Lee and Allen create is haunting and poignant so much so I had to immediately listen to it again. The jazz infused third movement transported me from the beach to the harbour and an inn with everyone was gathered at the end of the day. The virtuosic semiquaver pages full of ‘blue’ notes as Dr Walker describes them and the syncopated rhythms showcase the artistic talent of the GAIA Duo. It's a work I shall listen to regularly ... The GAIA Duo has produced a lovely programme demonstrating outstanding musicianship, impressively meeting the technical demands whether it be bowing and trilling or through rhythmic energy. Hopefully, it will also surprise and delight"


Release Date: 4 April 2023
Catalogue No: DCD34263
Total playing time: 59:40

Recorded on 22-24 March 2022 at St Mary’s Parish Church, Haddington
Producer/Engineer: Paul Baxter
24-bit digital editing: Jack Davis
24-bit digital mastering: Paul Baxter


02. Rebecca Clarke:Lullaby

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