Héloïse Werner: Close-ups review – from lip-smacking to lyrical

The multitalented Héloïse Werner, a singer, cellist, composer, narrator, verbal acrobat and linguistic chameleon, can hardly be summed up in a short phrase. Close-ups, her second disc for Delphian, recorded at SJE Arts, Oxford, brings together a group of like-minded musician friends: Max Baillie (violin, viola, fiddle), Julian Azkoul (violin), Ruth Gibson (viola), Colin Alexander (cello), Marianne Schofield (double bass) and Kit Downes (cello).

Werner is preoccupied with the many aural ways of expressing emotion: through the convention of vocal beauty (as in Barbara Strozzi’s Che si può fare, arranged by Richard Birchall) or through the adventure of spoken text, tongue-twisting, riddles or lip-smacking noises (Werner’s own compositions, Les Leçons du Mardi, Close-ups, Unspecified Intentions). For a more lyrical mood, there’s Tree by Errollyn Wallen and O vis eternitatis by Hildegard of Bingen, as well as Werner’s Lullaby for a Sister.

This is a record full of poise, curiosity and playfulness, the result of close listening and risk by all invovled. Werner and her colleagues make music that is as singular as it is striking.

Also listen out for a new album by Werner’s versatile collaborator Colin Alexander. His Solo Cello Music (October House) is quixotic and otherworldly, and strongly recommended.

The Guardian