Hyperion Records

Vortex
This is Simpson’s last work for brass band. It is dedicated to the composer John Pickard as atonement for having stolen (inadvertently) a title that had already been used by him. It is the shortest of the brass band pieces, but it retains something of the muscular symphonic fibre that pervaded The Four Temperaments. The music is truly vortex-like and is finally sucked down into one note, referred to by the composer as ‘not really a tonic note, more a plughole note’!

Vortex is in Robert Simpson’s highly characteristic fast triple-time pulse, which is maintained for the entire duration of the piece. Beginning mysteriously with a sinister muttering motive low on tubas and trombones, the music grows with considerable strength as powerful stretches of vigorous music contrast with quieter moments. These latter moments seem to reveal a new transparency of sound in the composer’s band scoring. The work concludes with a formidable blaze of sound recalling the final pages of Simpson’s Symphony No 10 (1988).

from notes by Matthew Taylor 1991

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