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AESOP 2 - 2021 - 7’
For untrained recorder soloist and large ensemble with electronics - 1.1.1.1 - 1.0.0.0 - 1perc* - acc - pno - elec -recorder - 1.1.1.1.1

*marimba (4.3), tam-tam, hi-hat (closed), triangle, cowbell, woodblock, tambourine, suspended cymbal

Winner of the 2022 Composer Slam European Championship, played by Orchester im Treppenhaus, conductor Thomas Posth, and Robin Haigh (recorder) on the 24th of February 2022.

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AESOP 2 is a sequel of sorts to Aesop, a piece written in 2019 for a (highly trained) recorder soloist and eight orchestral players. In that work, the orchestral players were asked to double on recorders - an instrument none of them were trained in - to create a more complex set of interactions than the usual protagonist vs collective concerto model.

AESOP 2 retreads the idea of a recorder soloist and large ensemble, but transfers the nervous, nostalgic sound of the untrained recorder player from the ensemble to the soloist. The recorder has been somehow tied up with my identity for the last five years or so: I have written a disproportionately large number of pieces for the instrument, and own many, which I often improvise on. However, I am completely untrained, having never received a lesson or attempted to learn a piece (that is not one of my own). Putting myself in the role of soloist in front of an ensemble of professional musicians is an act of laying bare my insecurities: my feelings of musical inadequacy at having never achieved the same level of skill on any instrument as my colleagues in classical music.

AESOP 2 is the first work in what I hope will be a sustained new direction in my music. Where my past works were very much tied up in the gestural language of the 18th century, albeit imbued with microtonality and extended techniques, AESOP 2 favours a broader musical vocabulary with an emphasis on drum beats and looping structures. -
Robin Haigh



The composer turned out to be truly untrained in playing the recorder, but had taken his squeaking as the basis for a highly complex piece with plenty of electronics. The recorder tones were stretched out in a loop in such a way that a hypnotic sound-wave-movement lay beneath the din, cleverly delayed by dance rhythms and finally echoed in the electronically generated vinyl crackle. There's something about making the artless so artful. - Neue Presse (translated)

Robin Haigh's “AESOP 2” combines sophisticated effects and microtonal structures with exactly the closeness and playful charm that characterizes the Composer Slam. It is therefore no wonder that his piece won the vote of the audience present in Hanover. - Deutschlandfunk (translated)