Songs from the Exotic
"Finely tuned balance"
"Expert performances throughout"
BBC Music Magazine, June 1995:
"Songs from the Exotic, comprising nine new works for voice, clarinet and piano played by TAPESTRY, is an outstanding disc in every way. The performances are exemplary and the stylistic range of music is wide and need not be feared by those wary of contemporary music. Andrew Sparling plays on both C and bass clarinets in addition to the standard B flat instrument and his handling of ethnic-sounding quartertones in Finnissy's Beuk o' Newcassel Sangs is remarkable. The Basket (Hayes) and Syrpa (Hallgrimsson) are particularly enjoyable and the amusing Balanescu by Laurence Crane has a wonderfully bizarre text set as a poignant lullaby"
MICHAEL OLIVER, Gramophone, 1995:
"Tapestry was formed about ten years ago, after its members had performed (of course) Schubert's The Shepherd on the Rock and wondered whether there was much else for this particular combination. That in its turn led to commissioning, and about 60 new works have been the result. What fun they've been having, if this selection is anything to go by. Michael Finnissy's Newcassel Sangs are the most immediately striking pieces here, but so so they would be in pretty well any company. The nearest I can get to describing them is to say that if Stravinsky had been a Geordie this is how his Pribaoutki would have sounded: there is rough humour to some of them, but pungency and anger as well: they are quite gripping. It says a good deal for Sandra Lissenden that she realizes that they need a quite different quality of voice from (say) the silvery pre-Raphaelite sound appropriate to Howard Skempton's extended Mary Webb setting, Colomen (a cunning example of real minimalism).
Haflidi Hallgrimsson's and Judith Weir's short cycles are both rooted (but not pot-bound) in folk music: both demonstrate that it can be vitally fruitful, he in a queer little nonsense-song for children, she throughout her four songs with the strong lines and spellbinding simplicity that are characteristic of her. Gabriel Jackson, too, proves that it is still possible to use very few notes and a memorable tune without seeming derivative. Sadie Harrison's and Aidan Fisher's pieces are tougher…Nick Hayes and Laurence Crane provide encore pieces that I imagine have already brought houses down…