Sawer: Rumpelstiltskin

Album cover art for upc 5023363025126
Label: NMC Recordings
Catalog: NMCD251
Format: COMPACT DISC

Denholm, Anne; Brabbins, Martyn; Birmingham Contemporary Music Group

Drama, or a fascination with theatrical possibilities, is present in many of David Sawer’s works, and he has written a number of scores for the theatre and for radio. Operas include From Morning to Midnight which received an Olivier Award nomination for Outstanding Achievement in Opera, Skin Deep with librettist Armando Iannucci, and The Skating Rink, which premiered at Garsington Opera to critical acclaim. All three of the pieces on this album (David’s third for NMC) have a connection with dance: the Rumpelstiltskin Suite (2011) originated in Sawer’s 2009, 70-minute ballet Rumpelstiltskin; the early ensemble piece Cat’s-Eye (1986) was choreographed by Richard Alston for Rambert in 1992; and premiered in concert in 2016, AprilMarch was commissioned for the Royal Ballet. David Sawer describes Rumpelstiltskin as “a grotesque fable for our times”. He leaves it to us to ponder the modern-day resonances of this dark tale of greed, deceit, cruelty and abuse. Cats-Eye is inspired by the fantascope projector, with its spectacular optical tricks that shocked audiences in the 1800s. A simple device called “l’oeil-de-chat”, caused these images to appear and disappear: as the eye closed, the source of light was extinguished. In this piece Sawer brings in instruments together – often in pairs – then they are pulled apart or pitted against others. Past and present is explored in AprilMarch – the back to front calendar of the title pointing to a reversal in time. This album also includes the bonus track Between, a gentle, beautifully ethereal work which captures a kind of otherworldly essence of the harp completely without sentimentalism.

Price: $22.99