The virtuosity which Brian Ferneyhough's music demands from its interpreters is notorious, and one of its characteristic qualities lies in the margin for error which separates its interpretation by human - and thus fallible - beings from the over-determination of the score. The high density of the musical discourse in ‘La Chute d'Icare’ (1988) is nonetheless relieved for the listener through the composer's sense of dramaturgy: there is no lack of climaxes or breaks in the flow, not to mention the stunning clarinet cadenza in which Carl Rosman seems to push back the instrument's technical limits. Graeme Jennings, former violinist with the Arditti Quartet, also shows his brilliance in ‘Terrain’ (1992) where the connecting thread he weaves is captivating, most notably in its evolving rapport with the ensemble of eight instruments ... This disc has at least two assets: it offers a point of access to a sometimes hermetic composer, while at the same time permitting the discovery of an Australian ensemble whose reputation on the international level will no doubt rapidly increase.

Pierre Rigaudière: Diapason no. 586, 12.2010 – Terrain, KAIROS 0013072KAI

    The action ricochets rapidly around the ensemble, with strings, brass and percussion sections sometimes joining in with the guitars, but more often setting off on their own separate tangents. The effect is one of constantly mutating discontinuity, which produces a shimmering kind of elusiveness broken frequently by mini-crescendos, which in turn fade to simultaneous ambient moments as various bits of the ensemble engage in bow-scratching, horn belching and disjointed percussive intrusions. Ferneyhough has described his work as 245 bars of total non-sequiturs.

    One of the best things about this concert was that after the intervals, ELISION helpfully played the piece again, giving every-one a chance for a second listening of a world premiere. Why doesn't this happen more often??

—Ben Eltham: Courier Mail, 04.02.2004 – Les Froissements des Ailes de Gabriel, world premiere: Brisbane, Australia

    In this post-Cartesian era where we claim to be bodies rather than to have them, Tulp is a reminder that the body-psyche relationship is in fact a dialectical one—the body can elevate or abandon us, just as we can nourish or neglect it; we are at one with it, apart from it. It is also tells us how much and how little has changed since the Renaissance went looking for the body with a scientific eye and a scalpel. Attitudes and operations can still be mediaeval; imaging, endoscopy and microsurgery miraculous. Tulp ends with a mother's lullaby to her baby, the words dancing, folding into each other on the screens, an expression of affection and hope after a gruelling foray into the complexities of what it means to be a body.

—Keith Gallasch: RealTime 59, 02.03.2004 – TULP, the body public, world premiere: Sydney, Australia

    The Welsh composer Richard Barrett entreated an excursion into the black holes of the universe. On stools and benches welded from steel tubes in the Norwegian Per Inge Bjørlo‘s environment, you had the impression of being in a forest of grabbing arms. Conducted from a spaceship's cockpit, one hears the musicians of the Australian ELISION ensemble partly shielded behind steel cages.

—Georg-Friedrich Kühn: "Exkursionen in Zwischenbereiche" Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 28.03.2003 – DARK MATTER: Berlin, Germany

    With an incisive performance by the ELISION contemporary music ensemble and large-scale video projections courtesy of Judith Wright, Rodgers pushes his audience headlong through the poet's nine spiralling layers of damnation, with swathes of violent aural suffering accompanying every turn.

    Theatrically lit and positioned among and above the audience, ELISION's fourteen virtuoso musicians pummel out an immersive electroacoustic sound field for close on two hours, drenching all present in everything from high-end guitar caterwauling and dog whistles to stabs of electronic feedback, subtle viola and cello phrases, free-jazz saxophone, amplified styrofoam scratchings and the destruction of instruments.

—Mark Gomes: Courier Mail, 09.07.2002 – Inferno: Brisbane, Australia

...[The work] really needs the incredible virtuosity of the musicians of ELISION to bring to realisation this luxuriant score, who devote to it an expressivity that intensifies a gourmandise experience of wild sonority. Some will hate this; I am one of those that took pleasure from this delirious flight, and who keenly anticipates the upcoming recording by ELISION.

—"M. Dq": Le Soir (Brussels), 02.04.1998 – Opening of the Mouth, European premiere: Brussels, Belgium

    Australia's leading ensemble for contemporary music, ELISION ... aroused the attention of an assembly of Danish concert-goers with a performance at Broadcasting House. And it proved a truly choice experience of virtuoso musicians with great authority as soloists, freedom and curiosity in the selection of the programme, and an attractive gesture in everything they did. The pessimistic image projected by Australian culture as in the grip of reaction, and abysmally underfunded as described by Jakob Levinson in the April issue of Dansk Musiktidsskrift was not in evidence in the practice of the ensemble.

—Ursula Andkjær Olsen: Berlingske Tidende 21.04.1998 – ELISION: Copenhagen, Denmark

    Urban mediocrity was replaced by myth-making 20th century style last Monday night as a candlelit industrial wasteland became a cathedral to the melding of art form in a subversive pseudo-underground hommage to Egyptian death rituals and the poetry of a Holocaust survivor.

    Visitors were led like Jews to the gas chambers around the darkened foundry. Inside a dilapidated warehouse they encountered a shattered landscape of rusting machinery, ambiguous film symbology, a disturbing loud electronic soundscape, and most confronting of all, the putrid stench of decaying fish heads which potently conveyed the bloodletting of Nazi-designed genocide. I nearly vomited...

—Stewart Dawes: X-PRESS Magazine Issue 525, 06.03.1997 – Opening of the Mouth: Perth, Australia

    In projects like this, ELISION constructs itself not so much as a concert-performing ensemble but as a vehicle for the creation of unique and thought-provoking artistic statements ... ELISION projects are ones with which one mentally carries on an argument long after the event. ELISION is a mouth.

—Peter McCallum: Sydney Morning Herald, 11.03.1997 – Opening of the Mouth: Perth, Australia

    Das ELISION Ensemble freilich ist glänzend: Musiker(innen) wie die Flötistin Paula Rae, der Posaunist Benjamin Marks oder der Cellist Friedrich Gauwerky—um nur drei stellvertretend zu nennen—würden jeder einschlägigen Formation zur Ehre gereichen. Einfach ein wunderbar aufeinander eingespieltes, mit äußerster Konzentration musizierendes Ensemble auf höchstem Niveau.


Edwin Baumgartner: Wiener Zeitung Observer, 23.11.1996 – Konzerthaus Wien Concert: Vienna, Austria

   The ELISION ensemble—newly ensconced at the University of Queensland after many years in Melbourne—celebrated its 10th birthday with a characteristic sequence of salto mortale items, proving yet again that "impossible" is a relative word. Its repertoire, once relatively eclectic, has now become sharply focused: both technically and aesthetically, it specialises in "tough cookies". Typically, though not exclusively, these tend to be rhythmically highly complex, with dense webs of wide-flung micro-tonal melodies, and the same horror of rests that one finds in Faure's later chamber works. In such a context, even a new cello solo by Stockhausen (Violoncello aus Orchester-Finalisten) sounded meek and mild.

    Italian composer Sandro Gorli is the ideal man to direct this kind of music, not because he composes the same way himself—he doesn't—but because, apart from sometimes making these works sound more Mediterranean than other conductors might choose to do, he has an immediate grasp of each composer's intentions and can guide the players imperturbably through even the darkest labyrinths.

    It seems unfair to single out particular players: for once, the ludicrous claim by Lewis Carroll's Dodo that "Everbody has won, and all must have prizes" was about right. Nevertheless, one can't overlook the astonishingly virtuosic contributions made by clarinettist Carl Rosman, percussionist Peter Neville, and oboist Stephen Robinson, not to mention a startling 10-minute improvisation performed before the concert by saxophonist Timothy O'Dwyer...

Richard Toop, Sydney Morning Herald, 02.07.1996 – Tenth Anniversary Concert: Brisbane, Australia

    [Adam] Yee's virtuoso writing served to highlight the skills of Australia's ELISION ensemble.

—Keith Field, Herald Sun, 04.11.1996 – Melbourne Festival 1996: Melbourne, Australia

    I saw part of this seven-day ritual last year in Lismore and can vouch for the fact that it is one of the most astonishing creations in recent Australian music performance.


—Paul McGillick, Australian Financial Review, 03.03.1995 – Bar-do'i-thos-grol: Lismore, Australia

    L'interprétation, grandiose, est indissociable du processus creátif tant il apparaît que les exécutants ont travaille de prés avec le compositeur leurs moindres inflexions. Sans doute, l'un des disques de musique contemporaine pour l'île déserte.

—Pascal Brissaud, Repertoire (Paris), 12.1993 – Richard Barrett/ELISION Ensemble

    In paticolare appaiono straordinari i clarinettista Carl Rosman, e il chitarrista, veramante strepitoso, Geoffrey Morris. Ma anche gli altri, Paula Rae, al flauto, Brett Kelly, al trombone, Susan Pierotti al violino e Jennifer Curl, alla viola sono bravissimi.

—Dino Villatico, La Republica (Rome), 23.10.1994

    But it is the disc of the Welsh composer Richard Barrett's music which so astonishes me. This is visceral stuff in the extreme, not music one would want—or be able—to listen to every day of the week, but important, original, personal, harrowing work, which simply demands a response. You may hate this music very much—as, indeed, I sometimes do but you could never ignore it. The performances are miraculous in their commitment: you picture the studio floor awash with sweat and blood at the end of the sessions; you imagine percussionist Peter Neville being led away to a month-long silent retreat after his performance of EARTH, even as trombonist Brett Kelly is booked in for facial reconstruction; you wonder what kinds of drugs Daryl Buckley had to take in order to grow the extra arm necessary to play colloid from the negatives series. The sound recording is superbly, brutally realistic throughout.

    This is music which appears to have been dug up rather than composed, and everybody who professes an interest in contemporary arts must hear it. But be warned: there is nothing nice about this disc.

—Andrew Ford, 24 Hours (Australia), 03.1994 – Richard Barrett/ELISION Ensemble

    Bij zoveel technische poespas hebben de musici veel barrieres moeten nemen, begrijp ik, maar het resultaat is de moeite waard: helder en virtuoso en tegelijkertijd emotioneel en rauw.

—Neil van der Linden, Entr'acte (Netherlands), 12.1993

    Friedrich Gauwerky's gut-wrenching and anguished exposition of the work, in which tone was not so much coaxed as wrenched from the instrument ... On both emotional and physical levels this was a tour de force culminating in some elaborate work by both hands on the fingerboard. I cannot readily recall hearing a concert curtain-raiser of such dramatic intensity.

Neville Cohen, West Australian, 19.05.1992

    ELISION has gone the distance and established itself not only as one of Australia's finest contemporary music ensembles but as an ensemble of international standing...

—Jo Litson, The Australian, 20.01.1992


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