The ‘quasi’ minimalist brief behind the orchestral album Symphonic Minimalism is one that Paul has often used to great effect with string ensemble line ups in albums such as Minimalism (2001) and Minimalism 2 (2005) for Cavendish and then again in various Audio Network projects but this was opportunity to use the same approach on a larger symphonic orchestral canvas. Stylistically the tracks are really quite some way from the minimalist writing of classical composers Philip Glass, John Adams & Steve Reich. Paul’s strategy here is in writing more motivically, using smaller melodic building blocks and keeping the overall density of musical ideas at a level where the audience is able to process them whilst watching visual images and listening to a voice over. In a sense this is the essence of successful writing for media.
Paul's strategy here is in writing more motivically, using smaller melodic building blocks
The tracks Busy Lives, Joyous, Stately Consideration and Tensile are all good examples of Paul’s ‘take’ on minimalism as just described. War Effort is a slight odd man out in that it was a track left over from a previous dramatic cinematic orchestral project (the Audio Network albums Heroic Cinema and Orchestral Heroes) which was waiting to be recorded. Even here though the approach is largely motivic in the orchestral underscore with any sustained slow moving vocal lines in the choir used for dramatic effect. The track Sunset is the subject of a separate article and has recently received BBC Radio 2 airplay on Remembrance Day and then again at the passing of her Majesty the Queen in 2022.
The album that was recorded in Abbey Road Studio 2 with the strings of the RPO and the wind and brass section of the English Session Orchestra.