A series of five haunting chamber works by UK-based composer Martin Iddon. The titles of the pieces are taken from different kinds of water nymphs in Greek mythology. Apartment House perform a set of five evocative and enigmatic chamber pieces by Leeds-based Martin Iddon, whose last CD ‘Sapindales’ sold out earlier this year.
"The naiads are freshwater nymphs from Greek myth. There were five different sorts of naiads, each one of which provides the name for one of the pieces in my cycle, Naiads: crinaeae (fountains and wells), limnades (lakes), pegaeae (springs), potameides (rivers), and eleionomae (marshes and wetlands). Though they could grant protection or prophecy, they were not necessarily always benevolent, and could be mercurial or even, especially, in the case of the eleionomae, maleficent.
In composing, I don’t really think in programmatic, or even figurative, terms. The pieces aren’t intended somehow bluntly to represent those mythical figures though I do think (I think) of music as necessarily representative of something, even if it’s more nebulous or much harder to pin down in words or image. I suppose that’s one good reason to try to capture it musically in the first place.
The same simple musical materials recur across the cycle, though used in different ways in each piece (and not every piece features all of them): fixed (sometimes elongated or trailing, some short, punctual) pitches; glissandi which are, like the pitches, smeared out; regular, dripping pulsation; meandering or more quickly flowing streams of pitch material; and, various sorts of quiet white noise.
I do think of those materials, as somehow having characteristics which I might map onto at least some of the potential behaviours of water. My thinking in this regard is very definitely influenced by the strange waters that you find in pieces by Chaya Czernowin, like Maim (2001–06) or Hidden (2013–14), even if Chaya’s music may not seem to have all that much aurally in common with mine.
Both Maim and Hidden are pieces I’ve found myself obsessing over pretty regularly and for a long time. They seem to me to do something a bit more distant (or distanced) than simple figuration, more like asking about the sorts of ways in which this musical material might move or flow if it were watery and what happens when those different watery materials encounter one another, whether, because they’re also music, they’re still miscible or miscible in the same way. There’s a quotation from Bachelard I once used to describe Chaya’s Algae (2009) (and which also made its way into the title of another of her pieces) that I regularly recalled in writing the Naiads pieces: “In the depths of matter there grows an obscure vegetation; black flowers bloom in matter’s darkness. They already possess a velvety touch, a formula for perfume.”
There’s also, as is often the case in my music, another of my obsessions sitting in the background, in that the pitches are largely derived from Dufay’s motet, Salve flos Tusce gentis, which mentions the naiads in its motetus section, though I’m not sure they’re derived in a way that leaves them more than distantly palpable.- Martin Iddon