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Sam Hayden: Substratum

Ensemble Musikfabrik, Stefan Asbury conductor
Quatuor Diotima
BBC Symphony Orchestra, David Robertson conductor

NMC D247

D247 Cover
The centrepiece of this album is formed by a substantial string quartet in seven movements.   To anyone who knows Sam Hayden and his music, the seemingly traditional genre may come as a surprise.   Transience, here performed by Quatuor Diotima, explores the sonics of extended techniques - it is a work full of soft, ‘whistling’ overtones as well as microtones.   It is dedicated to the late Jonathan Harvey, who was Sam Hayden's teacher, mentor and friend.

Relative Autonomy, for 16 players, is dense, rich and visceral.   A heavy layer of bass instruments - contrabass clarinet and contrabassoon, tuba and bass trombone, cello and double bass - is contrasted with the prominent use of instruments at the opposite extreme, such as piccolo flute and E flat clarinet.   Substratum follows in a similiar vein but includes contrast between passages of frantic activity and sudden periods of stasis when notes are sustained as if frozen in time.

This album includes the bonus track Die Abkehr.   Hayden explains, ‘the more poetic meanings of the title hint at a critical commentary on the increasingly nostalgic and inward-looking culture of the UK … the composition is the latest of a cycle of pieces that combine ideas related to “spectral” traditions with algorithmic approaches to composition, where aspects of the pitch and rhythmical materials are computer-generated using IRCAM's OpenMusic.’


1. Relative Autonomy   13'50
Ensemble Musikfabrik • Stefan Asbury conductor

2. I.    5'12       3. II.   4'28       4. III.   4'12       5. IV.   4'28
6. V.   3'46       7. VI.   3'55       8. VII.   5'29
Quatuor Diotima

9. Substratum   24'49
BBC Symphony Orchestra • David Robertson conductor

Total timing 70'27

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