Regular readers will know how averse I am to the sort of avant-garde music which merely seeks to annoy old fogies like myself – if that’s the intention, it surely works – and how delighted I am to be able to welcome works by contemporary composers which are a joy to listen to. There’s the odd item here that I shall have to come to terms with but nothing that I find harder to absorb than, say, the music of Toru Takemitsu. Indeed, I mention Takemitsu not just because of the use of an oriental instrument, the Guzheng, a kind of Chinese zither, in the title work Mothership; I also hear what I think may be his influence in Rusty Air in Carolina.
Another clear influence is jazz but most of all this is music in a clear line of descent from the likes of Copland and Bernstein. The cover illustration and a double spread in the booklet are of urban landscapes but Rusty Air and Desert Transport breathe the open spaces of America as much as Appalachian Spring. The performances are authoritative, the recording very good and the notes – a brief set from the composer and in more detail from Thomas May – are very helpful.