Crumb - Dream Sequence, Cello Sonata, Vox Balaenae | First Hand Records FHR130

Crumb - Dream Sequence, Cello Sonata, Vox Balaenae


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Label: First Hand Records

Cat No: FHR130

Barcode: 5060216345130

Format: CD

Number of Discs: 1

Release Date: 18th November 2022



Rohan de Saram (cello)
Ensemble Dreamtiger


Crumb, George

Dream Sequence
Sonata for solo cello
Vox Balaenae


Rohan de Saram (cello)
Ensemble Dreamtiger


The sad news of George Crumb's death was announced on 6 February 2022, shortly after these recordings from a concert in Holland in 1978 were discovered in the KRO-NCRV archives in Hilversum. They included the first European performance of Dream Sequence (1976), one of his most beautiful and original compositions. George was always a pleasure to work with, highly professional, considerate, open to suggestions and relaxed. On one fraught occasion, when Rohan's cello mysteriously disappeared for several hours, making rehearsal impossible, we would have expected many composers to throw a tantrum (!) but not George. He remained completely calm and slightly amused by the ensuing Tati-esque comedie.

He was also a master calligrapher. His scores, all hand-drawn, are works of art, the notation often original, and models of musical practicality. We offer these three recordings from long ago in tribute and gratitude to a remarkable musician, composer and friend.

Ensemble Dreamtiger was formed in 1973 to explore music, old and new, from around the world, and its interaction with European traditions. Dreamtiger worked with musicians and composers from most regions of the planet: Japan, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, India, Sri Lanka, The Americas, Canada, Greece, Sicily et alia, but its centre was cosmopolitan London. American music featured prominently in Dreamtiger's programmes, from Charles Ives and John Cage to George Crumb and beyond, with adventures in the jazz-inflected worlds of George Gershwin, Kurt Weill and Stephen Sondheim. A special focus was accorded to Colin McPhee who had lived in Bali in the 1930s. His many pioneering transcriptions of Balinese gamelan music, for various ensembles, formed a core part of Dreamtiger's repertoire and were featured in an American documentary film, in 1983, about McPhee's life.

Ensemble Dreamtiger:
- Kathryn Lukas (flute)
- Alexander Balanescu (violin)
- Rohan de Saram (cello)
- Douglas Young (piano)
- James Wood (percussion)


Dreamtiger respond with complete conviction to Crumb’s mimicking of natural sounds, from the tranquil to the nightmarish. Arguably his uncanniest work is Vox Balaenae […]. Through whistling, glassy textures and deep echoes, the humpback whale comes unsettlingly alive amid pointed nods to Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time.
BBC Music Magazine

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