These three works were the prizewinners in the First International Composers'
Competition 'In Memoriam Zoltán Kodály'. The recordings all
emanate from the winners' concert and have applause and a modicum of audience
The Gulya piece is quite attractive without being altogether original: more,
in the outer movements, a meeting of hearts and imaginations between Kodály
(Peacock and Galantá), Ravel (the two piano concertos
especially the G minor), Gershwin (Concerto and Rhapsody) and Shostakovich
(Second Piano Concerto). The middle movement is typically pensive; almost
a pastiche, at times, of 1960s French film music.
The Knell work is tougher pabulum with the element of dissonance noticeable
but hardly belligerent. A substantial concert piece it is essentially idyllic
but is challengingly troubled by an evocation of furnace heat and intensity.
I thought of Delius and Penderecki.
Standford is a much better known composer than Gulya or Knell. (see
composer profile). His is perhaps
the thorniest piece on the disc. It is allocated four tracks, the first of
which suggests a slowly turning maelstrom of chaos impelled by drums and
tam-tam. From this surfaces a nervous idyll from which strikes out and upwards
abrasive trumpets. From this avant-garde introduction rears up a typically
English choral paean. It is ruffled by atonal birdsong but the vocal writing
remains obstinately and admirably Howellsian or, towards the end, Holstian
in the manner of Hymn of Jesus. No 'violence' is required of the choir.
The magnificent surging complexity of the singing reminded me a little of
the glories of Havergal Brian's Gothic Symphony especially the Te
Deum. You may also fairly imagine Allegri's Miserere and Tallis's
Spem in Alium as an 'aural image'. The orchestra remains rooted in
the argot of modernity with string glissandi, pattering and argumentative
percussion, mordant violins (as in Panufnik Tragic Overture) and
malevolent brass. The presence of a cimbalom (even though contributing within
a framework of modernity) inevitably suggests a linkage with Kodaly's Hary
Janos. On the basis of hearing this piece three times I did not feel
that the juxtaposition of two elements: a fairly avant-garde orchestral canvas
and a warm tonal choral overlay, was completely resolved.
Anything by Patric Standford is well worth your attention. If you have modestly
tense sinews then you will find much to appreciate in this piece. I for one
hope that it will be a pathfinder for recordings of his Cello Concerto (premiered
by Raphael Wallfisch) and Symphony No. 5.
An intriguing collection. Gulya: instant access; Knell: a thorny tone poem
but easy if you persist a little; Standford: challenging, forbidding orchestral
exterior - accessible choral writing.
see also review by David Wright and
CD BR 0156
price $15.00 incl. Postage
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