Detail From The Record
"All good things come in threes" wrote Alban Berg in the score of his Chamber Concerto. He may have been referring to the numerological complexities of its construction, but the maxim proved its validity when a trio of fine works was presented by the London Sinfonietta under Oliver Knussen.
Kenneth Hesketh's Detail from the Record is from a work in progress: a puppet ballet based on Japanese folks tales. Hesketh's music has all the delicacy and subtle colouring of a Japanese print. A shuddering bass clarinet is followed by the gelid sonorities depicting the icy breath of the water sprite in The Cold Lady. If the string writing looks back to Berg, the tenuous wisps of sound testify to the power of Hesketh's own imagination.
1 June 2006
The Evening Standard
Kenneth Hesketh’s Detail from the Record, completed five years ago, started the ball rolling. In some surface respects Knussen must have felt that he was conducting one of his own works: compact; illustrative; sonorities carefully polished. The piece consists of snapshots from a puppet opera in progress, The Record of Ancient Matters, based on Japanese folk tales. Heard neat, Hesketh’s atmospheric music already takes us to strange places, where suspended notes hover, percussion battalions cut a swath, and motifs bubble and fade in synch with whimsical scenarios.
1 June 2006
Kenneth Hesketh's Detail From the Record was effectively a quarter-hour sampler for a work-in-progress, a puppet ballet based on Japanese folk tales. The four extracts woven into a single musical span are finished in a thoughtfully exquisite, almost Ravel-like way, while the transparency of the scoring recalls a piece like Mother Goose.
2 June 2006
This oddly if (as it so proved) viably put-together trio of works from the London Sinfonietta and Oliver Knussen featured two world premieres from younger British composers and a still-undervalued Viennese classic. Detail from the Record is a suite by Kenneth Hesketh from his in-progress puppet ballet The Record of Ancient Matters – whose sequence of Japanese-inspired folk-tales should prove as characterful to watch (at least if the preparatory sketches by Amy Luckenbach – displayed in the foyer and reprinted in the programme – are anything to go by) as it is to listen to.
Thus the quiet but restless atmosphere soon established in 'Of Moths and Dragonflies' gives way to a chorale-led evocation of ancient splendour – contrasting with the depiction of a first vengeful, then remorseful water-sprite and concluding with the antics of a badger who resides in a tea-kettle. All very entertaining in a decidedly whimsical way – as is Hesketh's score, which is not to detract from its considerable sophistication of scoring or striking imagery, expertly welded into a continuous span that hardly sounds a suite as such. Enticingly played by the Sinfonietta, it is further evidence of the composer's continued refining of his intricate but never diffuse approach to sonority – and with a gestural lightness of touch all too easy to overlook but which should never to be taken for granted.
30 May 2006
The Classical Source
Kenneth Hesketh’s Detail from the Record draws on material from episodes of a larger work The Record of Ancient Matters, a puppet ballet based on Japanese folk tales. The work is in four short sections played without a break. This beautiful work is undoubtedly the most readily attractive and accessible one in this most revealing release. The music is colourful and tuneful (yes, tuneful!) and the composer draws many imaginative textures from a somewhat larger ensemble than any of the other works recorded here.
1 November 2009
Musicweb-international.com CD review
Hesketh’s Detail is a series of episodes from a larger puppet ballet based on Japanese folk tales, and consists of whimsical textures constantly in motion, flowing and twisting, dissolving as soon as a graspable point of resolution seems to have been reached, suggesting a kind of post-impressionism and something of the stylized ritual of Japanese theater.
International Records Review