Reviews and Endorsements
Rich in content and association, depth and perspective: this is music by a composer with a ‘hinterland’
Rob Keeley on A Very Serious Game
Your pieces always strike me in this way – I’m witnessing something weird, as if I’m struggling to see in at a window to a ritual – and am constantly trying for a more complete view, because it’s engrossing and each time I don’t quite get the whole picture. For me this is part of what art should do. I wish I knew the secret!
Intoxicating Orchids is an outstanding a very inventive work. Whilst Whalley allows quite a bit of freedom for the soloists, particularly the wind section, the work is a demanding piece both on the soloists and the listener. For me this is contemporary music at its very best, its immediate ‘difficulty’ never descends into shallow self-indulgence. It respects the audience whilst being self-assured that of the power of the composition to win over.
Manchester-based Richard Whalley has built up a notable catalogue over two decades, with the calibre of performers on this first release dedicated to his music confirming the respect it is accorded… As a ‘Feast for the Senses’, Whalley’s music demonstrably has much to recommend it.
Richard Whitehouse in Gramophone review (May 13) of ‘A Feast for the Senses’ CD
Richard Whalley’s Six Songs of Old Japanese Wisdom (2007) have a poised, haiku-like concentration. His marshalling of characterful musical fragments suggests Cage’s gamut of ‘found objects’, though these songs are harmonically consistent and unified, and contain subtle musical development
Richard Whalley’s Interlocking Melodies is a stylish, Ligeti-inspired study in whole-tone figuration.
Paul Driver in the Sunday Times, review of ‘New Sounds from Manchester’ CD (14 June 15)
…music that vibrates at the thresholds: delicate & violent, crystal clarity & opaque textures, the exquisite & the haunting: it’s all in here/in hear, where the ear receives his sound as the player experiences it – a tactile sensorium of colour & timbre.
‘Iapetus Suture’ is certainly a big enrichment for the repertoire for saxophone quartet. Richard Whalley takes advantage of all the technical possibilities of our instrument and explores new possibilities in the field of sound. The excitement of the piece lies for us in the structure of this composition as well: it is constructed in such a way that no two performances will ever be the same.
Richard Whalley writes in a highly personal idiom which is totally original. His lines are clean and audible, the shapes and gestures have a striking simplicity without ever sounding like anything else and his ear for harmony and colour is truly remarkable.
I first came across the talented composer Richard Whalley at La Mortella, the home of Sir William and Lady Walton on the island of Ischia in the Bay of Naples. I was later delighted to perform his Six Songs of Old Japanese Wisdom, exquisite gems of great refinement.
I loved playing ‘Interlocking Melodies’. In a very short time, the interlocking melodies offer a multidimensional journey full of contrasted landscapes. I think it turned me in a better player as it made me discover new colours and shapes through superb melodies, original rhythms and complex chords.
Richard shows such imaginative use of colour and textures and has an instinctive grasp of how to write for the piano. It was a real pleasure to perform his Preludes
Richard and I have been friends for many years. Last year, my dance and ballet studio organised a 50 year anniversary celebration. After being present for the rehearsals and for the performance, Richard was inspired to write a composition for my students and me. The composition ‘Kinderszenen’ for piano solo consists of 7 short piano pieces. It is magnificent and diverse. What really impressed me was how Richard incorporated my style and choreography in the musical composition. This expressive composition is very dramatic and structured, making it a wonderfully surprising, unpredictable piece of art. The students have improvised to a number of the pieces and feel that it has great transitions. Furthermore they feel it has a meaning and depth which makes it for them an inspirational composition to dance to. I would like to thank Richard on behalf of my whole school for blessing us with such an extraordinary piece of art.