In such an uncertain time, we wanted to play music that we loved. We ended up with a set of work written over a 120-year period – weightless and transcendent new music alongside Schoenberg’s anguished fin de siècle storytelling.
Edmund Finnis’ work in particular (the titular ‘The Centre is Everywhere’) is important to us. He’s a friend and a colleague, and it’s been a profound experience for us to live with this piece, to tour it, and to make the first ever recording. Somehow in the writing of it, Edmund seems to have prefigured the lack of certainty that has been one of the defining characteristics of this period. His music spins freely through time and space, wraithlike and beautiful.
Whilst recording both ‘Company’ by Philip Glass and ‘Transfigured Night’ by Arnold Schoenberg, we found ourselves drawn to a pervading sense of wildness and nature. The hypnotic rise and fall of the rhythms and textures in Glass’ quartet (presented here in an arrangement for string orchestra) feel quite separate to industrial, man-made structures and forms. Like Edmund’s work, these short movements feel out of time and cyclical, like eternally repeating tides or moon-phases.
Schoenberg’s masterpiece for string sextet opens on a moonlit forest scene, two lovers venturing through a bare, cold grove. We’ve tried to create a recording that paints the violent contrasts of this piece as vividly as possible, from the claustrophobic confessions that open the work through to the gleaming sound world of the second half. As the piece closes, our wooden, earthbound instruments seem to have been transmuted by the glamour and glow of Schoenberg’s music. We finish amongst the stars.