Ben Foskett (born 1977) - On From Four

Engagingly mysterious, cello and double bass begin by slowly and quietly weighing intervals, to which soft chords respond. The music starts to move forward more decisively when the percussionist enters on cimbalom - the wonderfully clangorous box of hammered strings that will give its tang to much that follows - to strike a B flat, which again will stick around, as a point of departure and pole of attraction.

The resonances of the cimbalom's continuing line overlap with descending scales as the piece ups its game. Wood block decelerations soon usher in marked insistences on B flat again, but fatter: an octave lower, louder and smeared with microtonal deviations. New elements begin to assemble themselves, including heterophonies: bunches of two or more lines following the same melody out of synch.

Shortly after the heavy B flat has moved up to become a heavy E flat, with more repercussions, a pizzicato double bass instigates the main drive of activity: an exhilarating fast movement where heterophonies - usually featuring flute and clarinet, with quarter-tones, and often accompanied by drums and string strumming - are pointed against racing pulsed music.

The waves reach higher and subside before the urge comes towards the closing section. Here the viola sings in a high register over chimes from the cimbalom and iterations from the others, these eventually returning to B flat.

Paul Griffiths ©

Ben Foskett's On From Four was commissioned by Psappha through a generous donation from Lord Salisbury.

Nicholas Kok conductor

Conrad Marshall flute
Dov Goldberg clarinet
Tim WIlliams cimbalom / percussion
David Aspin viola
Jennifer Langridge cello
Daniel Whibley double bass

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  • Films of Psappha’s Hong Kong Residency (2013)
  • All of the films on Psappha’s website