Labyrinths online: The Orchestra of the Swan

The individuality of the Orchestra of the Swan is beyond doubt; this strikes me as their finest offering to date

Labyrinths online: The Orchestra of the Swan

The Orchestra of the Swan has released this vidieo, Labyrinths - the making of an album, which goes into how Labyrinths was made, and the challanges the musicians faced:

As David Le Page says, Timelapse was  conceived at the outset of lockdown, while Labyrinths shows a way out.

The Orchestra of the Swan is on a misison to redefine what the experience of "classical" music means. We are a long way from the culturally accepted behaviours of the concert hall here; it's not unreasonable, I think, to mjake parallels on an aethetic level between OotS and Manchester Collective (albeit with very different outomes).

While the titles are the same, the Labyrinths concert (which went live two days ago, on Monday January 17) is a different experience from the Labyrinths disc. Joined by Trish Clowes and Jim Moray, the Digital Concert's playlist is:

Schubert arr. Le Page Sleep Softly
Mozart Serenata Notturna
Clowes Bounce
Purcell Cold Genius
Vaughan Williams Dives & Lazarus
Syd Barrett See Emily Play
Bartók Romanian Dances
Maxwell Davies Farewell to Stromness

Building on the success of the OotS's first "mixtape" album, Timelapse (review: streamed over five million times since January 2021), Labyrinths if anything takes us deeper. Its starting point is Schubert/Le Page: darkest Schubert (Death and the Maiden, seeking to emerge into the light - the string sound reminds us of the String Quartet No. 14 in D minor). It segues into Mozart's Serenata notturna. Combined, the quarter-hour's worth of music is a microcosm (one could even argue it represents the trajectory of Mozart's Zauberflöte in miniature). It ends in a blaze of light ...

Somehow, Trish Clowes' Bounce, intervalically active as a box of frogs, doesn't seem like a disjunction; neither do the shard-like textures of Purcell's Cold Genius (Purcell meets Vivaldi).

Like pulling up a favourite blanket, Vaughan William's Dives and Lazarus pulls us into pastures green. Syd Barrett's See Emily Play (Pink Floyd in best Beatles mode in the original) here becomes the basis, after icy string gliss comments, for a sax imrpov from Trish Clowes.

Jim Moray & Trish Clowes

The final pairing - Bartók and Peter Maxwell Davies - works beautifully, too. The set of Bartók Romanian Dances begins with the one that, chances are, you will know - of particular note here is David Le Page's solo violin. And while the name of Peter Maxwell Davies might strike fear into the hearts of many of a certain age (Eight Songs for a Mad King and all that) rest assured that the Farewell to Stromness is, rather, a somewhat delicious lullaby, performed with utmost tenderness by the Orchestra of The Swan.

The individuality of the Orchestra of the Swan is beyond doubt; this strikes me as their finest offering to date.

The concert can be streamed at (from January 17, 2022). This is a free stream. Links for both Labyrinth and Timelapse albums are given below (worth noting Timelapse is curently discounted at this link).