Born in the USA but having created an extensive career with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, percussionist Tim Ferchen (b. 1947) is a well-respected colleague, a colourful composer and a warm-hearted human being. It is small wonder that the Awake Percussion quartet, formed by some of Finland’s finest young percussionists, should feature Ferchen’s music on their debut album, Broken.
Ferchen played with Steve Reich’s ensemble as a young man, and this is clearly apparent in his musical idiom. However, instead of simple repetition he serves up a rhythmic richness: in his pieces for mallet instruments, the static harmonies lay the foundation for intriguing rhythmic jigsaw puzzles, which Awake Percussion deal with swiftly and with precision.
More prominently, the works are informed by the composer’s extensive experience of things that work well in the percussion parts of European contemporary music. With non-pitched percussion instruments in particular, Ferchen builds up an incredible intensity based not only on rhythm but also on bright and surprising colours. Masquerades, commissioned by Awake Percussion, adds a tape part, which twists and turns the music in strange but wonderfully soft directions. The disc conveys the experienced percussionist-composer’s love of his craft and its richness of sonority and rhythm, and the passion of the young musicians for powerful yet precise performance is also very much on display.
Awake Percussion: Broken
Music by Tim Ferchen
Siba Records SRCD-1024
Translation: Jaakko Mäntyjärvi