The Hermes Experiment

Here We Are


THE performances by adventurous and original chamber quartet The Hermes Experiment were a stand-out of Matthew Whiteside’s The Night With . . . concerts in Glasgow’s Hug & Pint and elsewhere, in a season that was full of highlights. This debut album was recorded, for Scotland’s dynamic Delphian label, in Edinburgh’s Greyfriar’s Kirk over three days in October of last year, and it will surely be representing Delphian, alongside guitarist Sean Shibe’s Bach set, on many “best of” lists come the end of this one.

There are many startling things about The Hermes Experiment, beginning with the group’s line-up of soprano voice, clarinet, harp and double bass, which blends so well its singularity ceases to be relevant.

Nonetheless, commissioning new music has necessarily been central to the experiment, and ten of the 60 pieces written for them over the past six years are included here, alongside examples of the skills of the players themselves in arranging works for their particular combination of instruments.

That latter category includes bassist Marianne Schofield’s treatment of Anna Meredith’s Fin like a Flower, one of the shorter tracks, alongside the two by Emily Hall that give the disc arresting ways to start and finish.

Freya Waley Cohen’s We Phoenician Sailors, Josephine Stephenson’s Monteverdi companion-piece Between the war and you and Giles Swayne’s Chansons devotes et poissonneuses are more substantial, and there are fine contributions from the catalogues of Errollyn Wallen and Misha Mullov-Abbado as well.

Crucially, however, it all sounds of a piece, and that is down to the collective, with Oliver Pashley on clarinets and Anne Denholm’s harp, in which frontwoman and vocalist Heloise Werner has no monopoly on exuding an irresistible charm.