Piers Hellawell: Up By The Roots

In a long and distinguished career, Piers Hellawell has produced a body of work characterised by boundless invention, genuine discovery and deep integrity. Here, with his second release on Delphian, his enduring creative partnerships – forged through nearly 40 years of composing – are reflected in music that combines arresting surface gestures and sounds with a powerful underlying vision, resulting in pieces that both encourage and reward repeated hearings.

Professor Piers Hellawell is Professor of Composition in the School of Arts, English and Languages in The Queen’s University of Belfast, where he has taught since 1981. His music is published by Edition Peters (London) Ltd.

"Piers Hellawell’s music is as refreshing as it is alluringly strange...there is a visceral energy that gives it a sense of the here and now. Much of that is down to pulsating performances by varying scales of instrumental scoring, from the dense virtuosity of the Ulster Orchestra in Wild Flow, to the rhapsodic other-worldliness of Piani, Latebre, performed by solo pianist William Howard. Between these extremes are cello and piano duo Paul and Huw Watkins, in the wistful timbral experimentation of atria; the five-strong Hard Rain Soloist Ensemble’s delightfully puckish performance of Ground Truthing; and Hellawell’s hypertensive setting of Sinéad Morrissey’s poem Up by the Roots, narrated by the poet with intoxicating instrumental backing by the excellent Fidelio Trio."

"Without exception, all the performers relish the technical fluency of Hellawell’s scores; the variously sourced recordings are uniformly first-rate and the composer’s booklet notes helpfully explain such enigmatic titles as Piani, Latebre and Ground Truthing"

"The title piece, a melodrama to poems about the plight of migrants, read by the author Sinéad Morrissey, does, though, invest its piano-trio medium with tremendous force."

"This disc of music from the last decade showcases the sheer diversity and strength of composer Piers Hellawell's work ... his music is characterised by a toughness and seriousness, he expects his listeners to pay attention. And if you do, the rewards are great as not only is his sense of structure highly inventive and satisfying, but he has a remarkable ear for colour. So this might be serious stuff, but it isn't dour, the music is full of colour, timbre and imagination. The performances on this disc are superb, and many of the artists are ones with whom Hellawell has worked for some time, thus creating a powerful and satisfying showcase."


read the full review here

Producer: Chris Corrigan
Physical format: Jewel case
Number of discs: 1
Number of tracks: 20
Total playing time: 1:17:14
Release date:28 February 2020
Album ID: DCD34223

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