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  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    


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Dave HEATH (b.1956)
The Celtic - concerto for violin and string orchestra (1994) [14.03]
Celtic Air from The Four Elements [9.17]
Flute Concerto The Connemara [14.30]
The Four Elements for percussion and orchestra [27.16]
Clio Gould (violin) (Celtic)
Dave Heath (flute) (Connemara)
Kirk Richardson (percussion) (Four Elements)
BT Scottish Ensemble/Clio Gould
rec. Glasgow City Hall, 20-22 Oct 2003, DDD
LINN CKD 073 [65.35]

I recently reviewed a related Dave Heath anthology on Black Box. The Violin Concerto is the only overlap between the two discs. Otherwise the repertoire coverage is complementary. The Concerto goes with even more visceral élan in the hands of the English Chamber Orchestra (Black Box, Ittai Shapira) but by contrast the sound is less transparent in the hands of Black Box than on this Linn disc. The Linn also has the advantage of being performed by its dedicatee, Clio Gould. It is nice in the ‘Cooper’ finale to hear the ecstatic delirium of music surely reminiscing around the bell-like finale of Ravel's Ma Mère l'Oye.

Taking impressions in broad swathes I would say that the Black Box disc presents the instantly approachable Heath. The Linn takes him in more uncompromising mode; not that Heath is ever prickly in any 1970s avant-garde sense.

After much listening to the two discs you can identify various traits that together help make a Heath score as personal as one by Vaughan Williams or Martinů. His music is always clear speaking. He does not hide in dense thickets of texture. He embraces sentiment but always steers away from the brink of sentimentality. He is sympathetic to Celtic culture (witness his enthusiasms for Capercaillie and Aly Bain). He has a liking for the continuous slip-sliding oscillation of violins as found in Penderecki's Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima and in Alan Hovhaness's overture Fra Angelico. He holds memory up to the light of emotion and distils nostalgia from it. There is sorrow in the wings of his music as well as a rhythmic impetus. Sorrow is in the ascendant.

His Celtic Air was written in memory of family friend and fellow flautist Catharine Russell who died of leukaemia in 1993 while the extraordinary and unsettling Requiem on Black Box relates to the death of five year old Paul Medrington in a tragic accident. His string writing taps into the same purity we find in The Lark Ascending. His melodic invention, and sometimes his rhythmic patterns, take sustenance from Bartók.

He takes risks as we hear in the wind-chime noises at the end of The Celtic Air and the fire engine sirens (UK style) at the start of the Fire movement of The Four Elements.

Thanks are due to Glasgow City Council who grant aided this recording. Let us hope that the City Fathers are far-sighted enough to support other revivals. Have they heard of Eric Chisholm's turbulent pair of 1930s symphonies (Chisholm did so much to place Glasgow on the international cultural map during the 1920s and 1930s). They could also profitably turn their funding support towards Ronald Stevenson's music - commissioning the completion of the great Ben Dorain epic and recording the violin concerto and the cello concerto.

The Linn and Black Box discs complement each other perfectly. Once you have caught the Heath 'bug' (not difficult) you will have to have both. The Linn is certainly most beautifully recorded and executed.

Rob Barnett

MORE INFORMATION

www.dcheath.co.uk



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