I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Manchester Collective perform over the last three years, indeed one of my final live reviews prior to lockdown was their ‘Cries and Whispers’, an eclectic collection of music to move you, scare you, and inspire you in equal measure.
Used to performing in small, intimate venues, the advent of social distancing has seen them turn instead to the recording studio for their debut EP, ‘Recreation’. Due for release on 4th September, I was thrilled to receive an advance copy to review.
Founded in 2016 by Rakhi Singh and Adam Szabo, Manchester Collective is a daring and disruptive arts organisation unafraid to challenge convention with their fearless programmes of classical and contemporary music. Famed for their frenetic and frenzied performances of lesser known and often avoided masterpieces, I was curious to see how this would transform itself to a recording when much of the enjoyment experienced with their work is through the necessary attendance at a live performance.
‘Recreation’ somewhat timely plays with the ideas of change and transformation, opening with an electronic interlude and a manipulated Bach chorale which segues into music from Vivaldi’s dramatic ‘Four Seasons’ and excerpts from Ligeti’s cinematic String Quartet No.1 ‘Métamorphoses nocturnes’, with short musical vignettes by Paul Clark connecting the disparate sound worlds, composed nearly three hundred years apart.
Importantly they have not tried to recreate their live performance – how could they? – rather they have continued redefining the way people experience music, transforming it onto a new level with performances full of subtlety and nuance as we alternate between the vivaciousness of Vivaldi and the subdued tones of Ligeti, as light and life battle with the dark and mysterious which resonates strongly with the world we find ourselves living in right now.
There is a sense of growing maturity with the sublime sophistication of this EP that adds another string to their bow: circumstances may have been dictated but Manchester Collective have fully embraced the opportunity and I like the direction they have taken. I recommend you close your eyes, kick back, and feel the intensity of emotions this music brings out in you. You will not be disappointed.
Manchester Collective’s mission is to create radical, human experiences through music. Their work features regularly on BBC Radio 3 and NTS Radio. Further information at https://manchestercollective.co.uk/
Their debut EP ‘Recreation’ is released on the Bedroom Community label on 4th September 2020 and is available via manchestercollective.bandcamp.com. The opening track, ‘Prologue’ was released on Bandcamp on 7th August.
Brendan Williams – Production, Recording/Mix Engineer
Adam Szabo – Producer
Doug Hemingway – Assistant Recording Engineer
Valgeir Sigurðsson – Mastering
Helenskià Collett – Album Artwork
Rakhi Singh – Solo Violin/Music Director
Caroline Pether – Violin
Will Newell – Violin
Helena Buckie – Violin
Steve Proctor – Violin
Will McGahon – Violin
Ruth Gibson – Viola
Kimi Makino – Viola
Kay Stephen – Viola
Peggy Nolan – Cello
Will Hewer – Cello
Sam Becker – Double Bass
Reviewer: Mark Davoren
Reviewed: 16th August 2020
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★★