'Music that left me wanting to step inside my radio for full immersion.’ The Guardian
In July, BBC Radio 3 broadcast This Departing Landscape, a new 20-minute orchestral work by Martin Suckling. The composer’s most ambitious work to date, it was performed by the BBC Philharmonic and Ilan Volkov, with the Guardian’s Flora Wilson praising it as ‘music that left me wanting to step inside my radio for full immersion.’
‘Morton Feldman used the phrase “This Departing Landscape” to highlight how music slips away from us even as we are hearing it’ said Suckling. ‘The sometimes-hyperactive energy of my new work is far removed from Feldman’s soundworld, but his characterisation of music’s elusiveness provided the starting point for a journey across an imaginary landscape in constant flux.’ The broadcast is available online here.
There are two movements, which run together without a break. The first presents a kaleidoscope of sharp-edged fragments constantly shifting into new configurations. There are abrupt changes of material and tempo: patterns loop, repeat and transform irregularly. In the second movement the pace is radically reduced. This is music of glacial energy: extremely heavy, extremely slow, an inexorable continuity of gradual transformation. Tone becomes microtone becomes noise – and out of the noise, pulsation returns, a series of accelerations spiralling unceasingly, and then suddenly cut off.
'Suckling’s new orchestral work felt like the aural equivalent of a vigorous massage. Emerging from hard-edged shards of sound, its first movement revelled in sudden eruptions of new textures; the second in slowly shimmering chords, changing almost imperceptibly via minute shifts in balance within a general resonance and slipping in and out of “normal” tonality as if someone were twiddling a knob. This was music that left me wanting to step inside my radio for full immersion.’
The Guardian (Flora Wilson), 6 July 2020
Suckling, who from October will be promoted to Professor of Music at the University of York, has spent the last few months collaborating with the Scottish Ensemble and Scottish Dance Theatre on a new project entitled these bones, this flesh, this skin which will be released online in August. The BBC Philharmonic’s recording of This Departing Landscape will feature on an disc from NMC, which will also include studio recordings of Suckling’s concertos for flute and piano, with Katherine Bryan and Tamara Stefanovich as soloists.