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Maurice OHANA

Livre des prodiges; Anneau de Tamarit; Synaxis
Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg/ArturoTamayo with Anssi Kartunen (cello) & other soloists
timpani 1C1056 [66.10]
Amazon USA

This is the latest in timpani's Ohana series to which we should be indebted. Maurice Ohana (1914-1992) was under-rated in his lifetime and amends are now under way. This is as good as any with which to start, a grouping together of Two rituals and a song of the soul, as the Ohana authority, Harry Halbreich, heads his essay. Halbreich considers The Book of Prodigies (1979) for a huge orchestra, winds predominating as is common for this composer, to be Ohana's orchestral high-point. It takes its cue from classical mythology, with Winged Bulls, the Hydra and Alecto (a Fury who guards the gates of Hell). There is an obvious indebtedness to the Stravinsky of both the Rite of Spring and the Symphonies of Wind Instruments, and references to Afro-Cuban music - a heady mixture.

Ohana's Synaxis (1966) for large orchestra, dedicated to the Percussions de Strasbourg, features two pianos and four percussionists a zither tuned in thirds of a tone and flutes and brass played likewise. A bold, harsh work with dissonant harmony and the friction of seconds heightened by the microtones, and explosions of energy. The Ring of Tamarit (1976/77) is Ohana's second cello concerto, his preferred string instrument. A one-movement, intimate concertante work for a normal orchestra of about 50, more lyrical than the others here.

The performances are authoritative and the recording vivid, with the leading contemporary-music cellist Anssi Kartunen [photo] well forward, but not at the expense of orchestral detail. Fully documented - Halbreich's essays for this series must be collected as a book in due course - and fully illustrated with session photos. Recommended unreservedly.

Peter Grahame Woolf


Peter Grahame Woolf

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