BBC Music Magazine
Guided by Voices
Godin: Guided by Voices;
Ueno: Chimera; Ceccerelli:
With concord of sweet sounds;
LC Smith: Ricercar; Mckinley: Cortile di Pilato*; Streich: Minerva Elinor Frey (cello), Mélisande Mcnabney (harpsichord)*
Analekta AN 2 9162 75:09 mins
Period instrument exponents including harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani and viol consort Fretwork have proved more than amenable to enlarging their repertoire with contemporary music. It’s not even a recent phenomenon if you count Wanda Landowska, who was midwife to harpsichord concertos by Poulenc and Falla. Doing her bit for the Baroque cello is Elinor Frey, who commits to disc six pieces commissioned by or for herself.
And in taking charge of a new four-string Baroque cello to complement her five-stringed instrument, she reminds us that once upon a time, new music was routinely played on new instruments.
She’s a fearless, sleeves-rolled-up player who tackles the disc’s title track with resolute derring-do – the visceral earthiness of her five-string cello vividly explored by Scott Edward Godin in a work replete with agitated questioning, febrile edginess and feistily rustic apostrophes. By way of contrast, Isaiah Ceccarelli’s obsessively resonant With concord
of sweet sounds, commissioned for the same instrument, envisions itself as a continuo for an absent slow melody. And bringing the harpsichord to the table, Maxime Mckinley’s Cortile di Pilato proves itself to be a trenchantly drawn evocation of colliding timelines, while Ken Ueno’s Chimera submits a dreamlike sense of remembering to microtonal teasing and more. Frey’s is a bold project, boldly despatched. Paul Riley