Doolittle: all spring; Four Pieces about Water; falling still; col; Why the parrot repeats human words

Reviewed on Thu 28 Apr, 2016

The titular All Spring is an idiosyncratic five-movement work for chamber ensemble and soprano marked by varied atmospheres, the mimicking of birdsong and much evocative use of percussive elements.

A first encounter with the Nova Scotia-born, Glasgow-based Emily Doolittle reveals a composer with an ear for the music of the natural world, a gift for mood setting, a feeling for texture, and all underpinned by a bright neo-classical sensibility and a becoming sense of wit. The titular All Spring is an idiosyncratic five-movement work for chamber ensemble and soprano marked by varied atmospheres, the mimicking of birdsong and much evocative use of percussive elements. Based on a Thai folktale, the largest piece, Why the parrot repeats human words, includes spoken voice and much illustrative music that would readily suit a young audience for its directness of expression, an adult one for the dexterity of its execution. The precisely elasticated Col describes mountainous undulations, Falling Still contrasts oboe against strings to beautifully evoke a blackbird singing in the rain, Four Pieces about Water is aptly liquescent. Performances by the Seattle Chamber Players are alertly idiomatic.
–Michael Quinn