Howard Skempton: Bolt From The Blue


Daniel Becker (piano), EXAUDI/James Weeks, Mode 226***

If you don’t know the music of Howard Skempton, you’ll need some orientation. He’s a miniaturist. The 26 pieces on this CD run to 71 minutes. The longest of the 37 tracks is just under six minutes, the shortest just 43 seconds. Skempton’s is not the aphoristic, condensed style of a Webern. His pieces are more on the lines of artless- seeming but actually carefully fashioned observations and musings from a diary. They flirt with the everyday, the mundane, but they subscribe to no orthodoxy. Unpredictability is a major part of their appeal. The piano pieces on Bolt from the Bluework better than the choral items. Skempton’s vocal writing comes across to greater effect in Mode’s reissue of an earlier Skempton CD, Surface Tension,which also includes some of the composer’s own performances on his preferred instrument – the accordion. See