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Helen Grime

Publisher: Chester Music

Two Eardley Pictures: I. Catterline in Winter (2016)
Commissioned by the BBC
Work Notes
Winner of the prize for Large-scale Composition at the Scottish Awards for New Music 2017
Chester Music Ltd
Year Composed
8 Minutes
Programme Note
Helen Grime Two Eardley Pictures: I. Catterline in Winter (2016)
Preview the score

…More eerie sonorities, weaved into a much more vibrant landscape, came the following evening with the premiere (by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under Thomas Dausgaard) of the first of Helen Grime’s Two Eardley Pictures. Inspired by the painter Joan Eardley’s Scottish landscapes, this was subtitled Catterline in Winter, and Grime’s atmospheric and sometimes even ecstatic music certainly suggested a rugged east-coast community crouched defiantly against the North Sea gales.
Richard Morrison, The Times,08/08/2018
Dausgaard did a good job with Helen Grime’s splendid Catterline in Winter, the first of two Joan Eardley pictures, bringing the music vividly off the page, with the SSO projecting well the music’s restless dramatic undertow, as well as its surface earthiness, full of slippery contours: a very impressive piece, convincingly-delivered by the orchestra and its new boss.
Michael Tumelty, The Herald (Glasgow),25/09/2016
The concert opened with Helen Grime’s brief and beautiful Catterline in Winter, first of her Two Eardley Pictures and music whose layers, subtle textures, dank smudges and soft focus are all exactly right in response to Joan Eardley’s earthy brushstrokes.
Kate Molleson, The Guardian,23/09/2016
[Grime] has as precise an ear as any contemporary composer I can think of, and the two scores’ play of texture offered the combined pleasures of a crowded canvas and a rare vertical translucency. Catterline in Winter signifies (so I fancied) Eardley’s depiction of an emergent wintry sun – a white blob in a leaden sky – with hammer blows on a metal hubcap.
Paul Driver, The Sunday TImes,14/08/2016 I jotted down my impressions of this ten-minute tone poem I found myself constantly employing visual metaphors. A smooth wash of sound as the low brass and woodwind growled a heterophonic chorale; skittery dashes of colour, and watercolour effects from the chimes: this was visually-evocative music, clean-textured and filled with light, the contrast between hard-edged brass and mellow strings setting up a constant tension.
Michael Church, The Scotsman,08/08/2016
…the precision, transparency and coloristic range of Grime’s score [Catterline in Winter] powerfully mimics the perspicacity of Eardley’s vision. The composer’s spacious use of register and the coolness of the timbres evoke the expanse of field and water, the chill of the finely etched vistas. But, one hears more particular pictorial images too: the swell of the ocean’s surge, the piercing chill of an icy blast, the rustle of reeds; and, aural references: the work incorporates a Scottish folksong, ‘The Scranky Black Farmer’. Grime has created a cavernous, echoing chamber suggestive of a primordial past, but she supplements this elemental boom with incisive brush-sweeps – piccolo whistles, pizzicato snaps, percussive chimes, a reedy plaint, a clarinet’s mellow wavering – which have a striking immediacy. There is a prevailing darkness and depth, until the increasingly vibrant, nasal brass seem to push first the woodwind and then the violins into their uppermost register, bringing crisp air and sharp light. The sun’s strength forcing aside the shadows.
Claire Seymour, Seen and Heard International,06/08/2016
...the Proms might just have a winner here. The brittle, biting crispness of Grime’s soundworld is an appealing one, catching the chilly beauty of the Joan Eardley painting that is its starting point. But if the bracing brightness of the orchestral textures are all there in the original picture, the twisted little brass fanfares and writhing woodwind flurries are all Grime’s own – deft touches that make me keen to hear Part II.
Alexandra Coghlan, The Arts Desk,06/08/2016
...a thoroughly engaging composition, with Grime's soundworld giving full justice to the bleak, stark landscape of the painting. The orchestral writing contained a variety of orchestral textures and jagged harmonies, which combined together well in a highly original manner.
Oliver Brett, Bachtrack,06/08/2016
Helen Grime is worth getting to know. In her interesting Conversation with Andrew McGregor (without live music on this occasion) she revealed a wide range of cultural tastes. She recounted how she took inspiration for her two-part (if self-contained) Eardley Pictures not just from the work of Scottish artist Joan Eardley’s indigenous landscapes but also the traditions of ballads sung by farm labourers and in pibroch chants. These harmonic and rhythmic shifts were evident in Catterline in Winter with its leaden sky and flashes of light, which begins in a low register with a gently pulsing string figure like a lullaby which then becomes layered with brass and violent woodwinds. These slowly mutating figures are interrupted by three vigorous episodes inspired by the sun breaking through the oppressive greyness. The end is silence. This complex music, a cliff-hanger, was presented with clarity and precision under Thomas Dausgaard.
Brian Barford, Classical Source,05/08/2016
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