In June 2012, the Tallis Scholars gave a concert in Durham Cathedral that included the winning entries of the 2012 National Centre For Early Music’s Composers Award. Since then, here in Durham, we’ve heard a lot from local boy Ben Rowarth, who won the 19-25 category, but what about the younger winner, Alex Woolf? Well, he’s been pretty busy too, including a stint as principal composer of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, and this week he’s launched his first album, a collection of his own works for solo piano.
Alex was kind enough to send me a preview of the album, and I’m enjoying it immensely. It’s called Red Handed, and all the tracks have titles relating to colour; it’s a nice conceit, not least because Woolf’s music is so colourful, rhythmically and tonally. The first piece Strike Gold is cheerful and energetic, and the title track is a great thumping show-stopper, that follows in the tradition of some of the great French piano works, with a dose of minimalist-style shifting of rhythms and harmony to keep things moving. There are also more contemplative pieces, and I liked the idea of the rather mysterious Green Light being inspired by Jay Gatsby. The final track Silver Lining is built round a lovely, plaintive tune, reminiscent of late Brahms, and like much of the album showing an impressive assurance and maturity.