In November a new song cycle by Tansy Davies – The rule is love – was premiered by contralto Elaine Mitchener, the London Sinfonietta and Richard Baker. Commissioned by the Sinfonietta, Kings Place and the Donaueschingen Musiktage, the 10-minute work sets two texts by John Berger and Sylvia Wynter – each of which appears twice.
‘They’re weird pop songs, a little bit inspired by the David Lynch aesthetic’, explains Davies. ‘The first and the third are related – they’re dark and funky – while the second is sweet and floaty. The last song is more epic; it doesn’t just do one thing, there’s more of a narrative, and it ends up in a very different place to where it began’.
The work, which is scored for contralto, soprano saxophone, bass clarinet, percussion, violin and double bass, was premiered as part of a portrait concert entitled ‘Jolts and Pulses’ which also included neon, grind show (electric) and Undertow.
The rule is love will receive its German premiere in October, when Mitchener will be joined by players from Manufaktur für aktuelle Musik.
‘Music that is entirely itself, with a raw intensity impossible to ignore’
‘A vivid demonstration of how distinctive Davies’ music can be… [The rule is love is] haunted by the tropes of pop music… as in so much of Davies’ music, the fragile surfaces seem to hide much more than they reveal… salt box and grind show underpin moody ensemble writing with mysterious, threatening electronic sounds… The concert ended with what is perhaps the archetypal Davies work to date, neon, in which pulse schemes influenced by Birtwistle are overlaid with the driving insistence of funk… it’s music that is entirely itself, with a raw intensity impossible to ignore.’
The Guardian (Andrew Clements), 11 November 2019