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Christopher BOCHMANN
(b 1950) Aleafonia Concertante No 3 (1983) 11'44" Em Homagem (1984) 9'51" Epitaph (1991) 16'54" Misere Mei (1994) 11'54" Metaphors (1997) 10'41"
Orquestra Sinfónica Juvenil Christopher Bockmann
Recorded Lisbon. 25 March '99; 29 June '99; 10 Nov '99 Strauss  Portugalsom ST 2246 DDD [61'28"]

Another Portuguese disc recorded with support from the Ministry of Culture in Lisbon. This time the theme is current and future music, rather than taking a retrospective view of an earlier generation. The subject is the work of John Bochmann. He is currently Director and Head of Composition at the Escola Superior de Musica, in Lisbon.

As English born, Christpher Bockmann's notes with the CD are in his own words and have not undergone any translation vagaries. He explains in considerable detail what his thinking was behind each of the five works - without these explanations the listener would frankly have been at a loss to follow what was going on.

The pieces on the disc are played in the order of composition. The Aleafonia Concertante No 3 is described as developing from experiments in controlled improvisation and makes use of the Concertino (Soloists in 5 groups) contrasting with Ripieno (main group). The second work Em Homenagem" (In Homage) has conventionally played extracts of Bach, Handel and Scarlatti which progressively "dissolve" (the composer's word) and "dismember the tonal logic". Epitaph has as dedicatee Mozart and a snatch of his D Minor Fantasy quoted eight times - after each quotation the original moves closer to the composers own music.

Misere Mei uses a spoken text (for female voice in English), with part of the same text (in Latin) sung in fragments by four males voices with a purely instrumental second section. The concluding Metaphors, for full orchestra, is built upon guiding focal points with "interruptions" by smaller groups.

The recording is excellent, allowing the composer's intentions to be heard clearly, and the Lisbon Youth Orchestra members seem perfectly competent and happy in their roles. Mr. Bochmann has conducted the Orchestra over 340 times. Clearly his position with the students and the Orchestra allows him to use the players in his musical workshop and experiment with his writing. A fortunate man to be a composer in this position. While listening to the recording near the beginning I noted down the words "a musical cul de sac". At the end I see no reason to change my view. Music is more than just a collection of notes and sounds. It needs to have some appeal to the emotions too.


Harry Downey


Harry Downey

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