The Traces Cycle
James Erber, Matteo Cesari, Flute
- EngineeringAdaq Khan
- MasteringAdaq Khan
- Cover ImageMargaret Erber: Green Garden (WEA London)
- ProducerRichard Barrett
The Traces Cycle & Other Works
Convivium Records is proud to present an exclusive new production of James Erber’s Traces Cycle and other works including Flourish, A Small Revelation and ein andrer Hauch, recorded with Matteo Cesari, flute and piccolo.
James Erber’s music has been concerned with traces—signs of overwriting, both revealing and concealing what lies beneath—for even longer than the fifteen years spanned by the composition of the main work on this disc. An excavation of his interest both in archaeology as a metaphor for music and in archaeologies of music itself might begin ten years earlier still: with the thirty-year-old Erber, newly arrived in Freiburg, embarking on the composition of Music for 25 Solo Strings (Epitomaria–Glosaria–Commentaria).
That work was, first of all, a “reading-through” of Byrd’s motet Emendemus in melius, making explicit both Erber’s interest in music of the Renaissance and early Baroque and his concern with spiritual and artistic continuity. But its tripartite scheme of source and multiply layered commentary was confirmed by a visit the composer paid while working on the piece to the site of the Roman town of Herculaneum, where he saw the ancient ruin set alongside the present-day settlement of Ercolano, itself consisting of the old town on the cliff and the modern buildings behind it, all three layers visible to varying degrees from a single vantage-point.
Read more of the booklet notes by downloading the artwork (free).
Born in London in 1951, James Erber gained degrees in music from the universities of Sussex and Nottingham before working as Music Editor for Peters Edition, London (1976–79) and as a freelance editor, writer and translator. Still largely self-taught as a composer, it was in this period that he produced his first acknowledged works, beginning with Seguente for oboe and piano (1976, rev. 1980). The guidance and encouragement he received from Brian Ferneyhough prompted him to a serious study of composition, first with Jonathan Harvey at the University of Sussex (MPhil in Composition), then in 1981–82 with Ferneyhough himself at the Musikhochschule, Freiburg-im-Breisgau.
On returning to England, he combined composition with teaching and lecturing, including three years in the Music Department at Goldsmiths’ College, University of London (1991–94). He was invited as guest lecturer to the Darmstadt Summer Courses in 1988 and 1990, having won a Stipendienpreis there in 1986. In 1994 and 1996 he was shortlisted for the prestigious Hinrichsen Foundation bursary, and in 1994 received a Holst Foundation Award which enabled him to write Abiya, one of a number of solo piano pieces completed around this time (as was the violin and piano duo Te’amim).
Erber’s music has been performed and broadcast widely throughout Europe, in Australia, New Zealand and the USA by soloists such as Mario Caroli, Matteo Cesari, Carin Levine, Nancy Ruffer, Christopher Redgate, Carl Rosman, Darragh Morgan, Franklin Cox, Ian Pace and Jonathan Powell, as well as by ensembles including Lontano, Ensemble Exposé, 175 East, the Arditti Quartet and ELISION.
In addition to The ‘Traces’ Cycle, important work of the last two decades includes the 50-minute, two-movement string quartet An Allegory of Exile (1992–95); two further piano pieces, Fluctuations (1999/2006) and Qfwfq (2003); solo works for guitar, violin, cello, treble recorder, clarinets in E flat and C and tenor saxophone; duos for two bass flutes and two soprano saxophones; the ensemble works Das Buch Bahir (2004–5) and The Death of the Kings (2007); and most recently Mox Nox (2009) for bass clarinet and string quartet, String Quartet No 2 (2010–11), and Landscape (with Laocoön and his Sons) for clarinet, trumpet and percussion (2010–12).
Winner of the 2010 Kranichsteiner Music Prize for performance at the Darmstadt Summer Courses and of numerous other awards and scholarships, Matteo Cesari studied flute with Mario Caroli at the Conservatoire de Strasbourg, and is at present a doctoral student at the Paris Conservatoire, pursuing research into the works of Brian Ferneyhough and Salvatore Sciarrino.
Cesari has performed extensively as a soloist in Japan, China, the USA, Australia and throughout Europe, including in Paris, London, Vienna, Madrid and Rome, and he has worked closely with ensembles such as Ensemble intercontemporain, the Nieuw Ensemble and L’Itinéraire.
He has worked with many of the leading figures in the music of our time, among them the composer-conductors Pierre Boulez and Peter Eötvös, the conductor Tito Ceccherini, the soprano Barbara Hannigan, and the composers Salvatore Sciarrino, Ivan Fedele, Brian Ferneyhough, Hugues Dufourt, Stefano Gervasoni, Bruno Mantovani and Michael Finnissy.