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CD: Crotchet

A Place Between
John TAVENER (b. 1944)
1. Ikon of Joy/Sorrow. (first recording)
Arvo PÄRT (b. 1935)
2. Hymn to a Great City
Alexander KNAIFEL (b. 1943)
3. O Heavenly King (first recording of version for soprano, string quartet, piano and celesta)
Valentin SILVESTROV (b. 1937)
4. Ikon (first recording)
5. 25.X.1893 … in memoriam P. I. Tchaikovsky No.2 - Lullaby (2004)
6. Da Pacem Domine (first recording of version for string quartet)
Henryk GÓRECKI (b. 1933)
7. Good Night (In Memoriam Michael Vyner). Op.63 (1990)
John CAGE (1912-1992)
8. In a Landscape
Patricia Rozario (soprano; 3, 7); Callino Quartet (1, 3, 4, 6); Michael McHale (piano; 2, 3, 5, 7, 8); Ioana Petcu-Colan (violin; 5); Vourneen Ryan (flute; 7); Stephen Kelly (percussion; 7).
rec. St Peters Church of Ireland, Drogheda, 28 February-2 March 2009
Experience Classicsonline

Louth Contemporary Music Society have here added to the blooming renaissance in approachable music of our time. I say ‘our time’ even though the composers were variously born in the 1930s and 1940s.

Tavener's Ikon of Joy and Sorrow is in the meditative minimalist caste of schnittke's Spiegel im Spiegel but for string quartet. The Callino Quartet give a concentrated version but their violins do sound - presumably deliberately - rather skeletal. Pärt's splash-swirling Hymn to a Great City for solo piano is cleanly laid out and brought to a logical and rounded close. Knaifel's unhurriedly soliloquising O heavenly king is for string quartet, soprano, piano and celesta. The singing recalls the solo line in Gorecki’s Symphony of Sorrowful Songs chimed around by celesta and piano and by the slow projection of lines from the quartet. Silvestrov's Ikon for string quartet proceeds quietly in devout contemplative gait while the same composer's Tchaikovsky Lullaby for violin and piano has that same dreamy and faintly melancholy air.

Pärt's Da Pacem Domine is soused in the atmosphere of medieval mysteries. Goodnight by Gorecki, whose Symphony I mentioned earlier, wrote the three movement 27 minute piece in memoriam Michael Vyner. It is the most complex of the works here and across its three Lentos has a subdued iterative character. Prayer and meditation are the order of the day. Cage's name like that of Stockhausen often sends people into meltdown, freefall or a rush to the shelters. His 1948 In a Landscape is a remarkably delicate conception. Its softly chiming piano solo runs to 10:18. The hushed slowness, toll and eddying carillon of this music is wonderfully restful. It would nicely balance Maxwell Davies's Farewell to Stromness, another lovely approachable piece from a composer people at one time loved to fear.

The notes are perceptive and helpful.

This is an enlightened project and its funders deserve praise as much as the musical and technical teams: Music Network/Arts Council Music and the Arts Offices of Drogheda, Louth and Dundalk.

Rob Barnett


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