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First Review of Clan Vinyl

Clan Vinyl

The first review of the Clan vinyl has been published online by Graham Rickson at The Arts Desk.  I love vinyl sound which, for me, has a real sense of presence.

The Clan vinyl needs to be played at 45 RPM – which gives an exciting sound, but means there is only ten minutes playing time per side. Luckily this suits the music well: the first five movements are positive and fit onto Side A, while Side B starts with Betrayal where the music changes dramatically. The review is below:

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by Graham Rickson Saturday, 16 March 2024


Joanna Borrett: Clan Her Ensemble/Joanna Borrett

Clan is a ten-part suite for strings by cellist and composer Joanna Borrett. Ten concise movements follow the trials and tribulations experienced by a Scottish tribe, taking in reels and ceilidhs, betrayal and conflict. Borrett’s CV makes for interesting reading, with studies in Moscow, a spell as principal cello in the Scottish Baroque Ensemble and a detour into journalism, and Clan is an appealing work, designed for performance by a full string section or solo quintet. The music plays out like a ballet suite, a wistful introduction leading to a pithy, catchy reel lasting barely a minute and a euphonious celebration of unity, “Us”. Borrett’s language is tonal and accessible, the string writing alluding to a very English tradition. Think Holst or Warlock, in a good way.

Borrett’s concision is striking, with much incident packed into movements which rarely exceed three minutes; Clan lasts just over 19 minutes but feels much bigger. “Betrayal” and “Armour and Battlefield” take us into impressively astringent territory, the members of the all-female Her Ensemble whipping up a storm, and a final “Chant” has them doubling on wordless vocals before a solemn, downbeat close. Impressively engineered, Clan is available as a download and as sheet music. I also listened to the limited-edition vinyl and was wowed by the punch and impact of the string sound. Played here with plenty of flair, this recording was released to mark International Women’s Day. Her Ensemble will be performing it as part of concerts celebrating music written by female composers in Liverpool and Leeds on 25th and 26th March respectively – do catch them if you’re nearby.