Offspring Bites celebrates the most stunning chamber works commissioned by Ensemble Offspring through our Noisy Egg Creation Fund, recording them for release and pairing them with bespoke visual content. Offspring Bites 3: En Masse features works by Australian composers Alex Pozniak, Holly Harrison and Thomas Meadowcroft.
En Masse is Alex Pozniak’s response to a commission by long-time supporter Charles Davidson, for a substantial piece for the sextet’s core line up of flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano and percussion. The title refers to the idea of the ensemble working together in a unified mass and the musical ideas explore notions of mass and heaviness. It exists in a segue 3-movement form (fast slow fast) and is 30 minutes in length.
bend/boogie/break by Western Sydney composer Holly Harrison describes the character of three recurring ideas across the work. ‘Bend’ refers to the use of glissandi and pitch bends (particularly strings); ‘Boogie’ refers to the underlying funk bass; and ‘Break’, as in, to break apart or a ‘breakdown’ section (perhaps a nod to metal rhythms).
The title of Thomas Meadowcroft’s work for quartet and electronics, Medieval Rococo, is an oxymoron for our time: how is it possible to generate an abundance of wealth, ornamentation and redundancy on the back of an impoverished idea? The terms ‘medieval’ and ‘rococo’ are not used to reference periods of European art history, but in the populist sense of the words. ‘Medieval’ denotes music crude and backward, ‘rococo’ denotes music garish and arty.
Offspring Bites 3: En Masse features new video art by Melbourne artist Cobie Orgers (Medieval Rococo), and Sydney-based Juan Withington and Andrew Morgan (bend/boogie/break). A professionally documented live performance of En Masse can also be viewed here.
Alex Pozniak – En Masse for sextet (2018)
1. Movement I
2. Movement II
3. Movement III
4. Holly Harrison – bend/boogie/break for sextet (2018)
5. Thomas Meadowcroft – Medieval Rococo for sextet (2016)
Claire Edwardes (percussion / Artistic Director)
Jason Noble (clarinets)
Lamorna Nightingale (flutes)
Véronique Serret (violin)
Blair Harris (cello tracks 1-3)
Rowena McNeish (cello track 4)
Benjamin Kopp (piano tracks 1-3)
Zubin Kanga (piano tracks 4, 5)
Roland Peelman (conductor tracks 1-3)
“I implore you to listen (and watch!) Ensemble Offspring’s newly released and excellent album, Offspring Bites 3: En Masse, as a model for how a chamber ensemble can skilfully cultivate and present new compositions by living composers.” – Julie Zhu, Tempo
“Engaging varied and multigenerational audiences is unprecedentedly difficult, but Ensemble Offspring rise to the occasion.” – Julie Zhu, Tempo
“As ever, these Australian works are superbly played and recorded by Ensemble Offspring.” – Keith Gallasch, RealTime
“En Masse is a celebration of the scope of Ensemble Offspring’s diverse skill set and the unconventional sounds they revel in as a collective.” – Jessie Cunniffe, Sydney Morning Herald
“The technical and expressive demands are devilish, handled expertly by seasoned musicians.” – Jessie Cunniffe, Sydney Morning Herald
“En Masse is a thoroughly enjoyable and thought-provoking album, showcasing distinctive new works by emerging Australian composers.” – Claire Matthews, ClassikON
“Percussion and percussive piano – rhythmic and bottom-heavy – provide bedrock and backbone, while the other instruments weave a filigree of sound around this.” – Paul Cooke, Fine Music Sydney
“Music positively explodes from the disc – These three pieces for contemporary sextet are all confident, different and full of life, signs of vigorous contemporary music in Australia. The music positively explodes from the disc, and the performances are all superb, as the players enter with a will the different, and sometimes challenging, sound worlds of the composers.” – Robert Hugill, Planet Hugill
“Any organisation or ensemble that is prepared to work with living composers and perform and record their work with this kind of palpable passion and commitment deserves all the support they can get, and this goes for Offspring Bites 3 in every sense.” – Dominy Clements, Musicweb International
“I’m blown away by the incredible energy, clarity, intelligence and spirited engagement that the musicians bring to the performances.” – Vanessa Lann (composer, The Netherlands/USA)
“En Masse satisfied my long-held desire for an extended work by Australian composer Alex Pozniak, whose career I have followed for many years. And this disc doesn’t disappoint, brimming with Pozniak’s signature darkness and punctuating bold gestures. The long-form nature of En Masse allows space to revel in quieter textural moments throughout, a rare treat for my ears.” – Lachlan Skipworth (composer, Perth)
“En Masse is a perfect expression of Offspring’s 25 year history of combining distinctive personalities into a cohesive unit. In the true spirit of something done En Masse, there is a group consensus, common purpose, and a rich depth of individual artistry.” – Ross Karre (percussionist & director, International Contemporary Ensemble)
Tracks 1-3 recorded at Studio 301 by Bob Scott
Track 4 recorded at Sydney Conservatorium of Music, Music Workshop by Bob Scott
Track 5 recorded at Eugene Goossens, ABC Centre Ultimo by producer Andre Shrimski and engineer Jason Blackwell, mixed and mastered by Bob Scott
Dale Harrison (front cover)
Keith Saunders (inside cover)
Anna Kamaralli (page 3)
Steve Broadbent (page 4)
Harry Schnitger (page 7)
A big thanks to all our wonderful Noisy Egg Creation Fund donors for their brilliant support of these works, especially Charles Davidson, Penny Le Couteur and Greg Dickson. Ensemble Offspring is grateful for government support from the Australia Council for the Arts and Create NSW.