I first encountered the music of London-based composer Lucy Claire when the Stationary Travels blog was only about a month old, an affecting piece entitled “Paelistin” savored over a cup of coffee on a quiet Saturday morning. Soon after that came the stunning two-part Suite (reviewed here) and a pair of beautifully realized collaboration & remix EPs featuring guest artists such as Marie Schreer, Alev Lenz and Tom Adams. After a relatively quiet 2017, it is wonderful to hear that Lucy is planning a series of releases throughout the year and she could hardly hope to get off to a better start than the first installment, a ravishing quartet of compositions entitled String Works which is now available.
The ensemble of Marie Schreer (violin), John Garner (violin), Francis Gallagher (viola), Naomi McLean (cello), Gwen Reed (double bass), Pete Lambrou (guitar), and Chris Beagle (French horn) lends support to Lucy and her piano on the first three pieces. The effusive swells of “It Is Winter Here” veritably burst with melody & emotion while “Mourners Matinée” morphs taut suspense into melodrama before taking a sudden turn towards a fierce sonic disintegration.
A poignant melancholy haunts “Silhouettes”, a delicately layered piece capable of evoking comparisons to the work of the wonderful late Jóhann Jóhannsson, as it shows a similar penchant for elevating introspective minimalism on a cinematic scale. The album concludes with “If the Moon Could Frown”, a stately and elegiac final coda full of clever interplay between the instruments exquisitely performed by the Iskra String Quartet. String Works may not burn long, but it burns bright, a hot blue flame that will leave you enraptured.
A CD edition with art by Lucy herself is available from her Bandcamp site while a digital only option is available from 1631 Recordings.