Back to Tectonics, and to one of the most beautiful new orchestral scores i’ve encountered in recent times. Christopher Fox‘s Topophony, for orchestra and up to three optional soloists (but not a concerto), operates in such a way that the conductor ensures that every beat is a different length. Beats are not of over-arching sonic importance, though, as the music speaks through slow, meditative swatches of instrumental colour, comprising textures of protracted, shifting pitches with a variety of surface articulations. These are often fascinating, conjuring up motors, the noise of something caught in bicycle spokes, the bell of an alarm clock: unpitched occasional worryings that become a delicate counterpoint to the rest of the orchestra which, apart from some moments when deep throbs threaten to overwhelm, comes across by contrast as rather distant (in both senses of the word). The atmosphere, simple but rich, is strange and magical, with Fox gently marshalling things at the end toward a resolution of sorts, made up of not-quite octave unisons, turning the music from something solid into vapour. Gorgeous.
The world première of Topophony was given by harpist Rhodri Davies (whose mysterious role was essentially indistinguishable from anyone else) with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Ilan Volkov.