The names may be unfamiliar but the musical language of these three is welcoming.
Mozetich is Italian-born (1948) but lives and was musically trained in Canada.
His string fantasy is very easy to like. Its consonant string undulations
weave and melt in ecstatic fervour. Tippett, Wirén and Bernard Herrmann
are familiar voices suggested by the warm melt, merge and collision of this
music. If you enjoyed Peteris Vasks' string symphony or Tippett's Corelli
Fantasia you will want this.
Whale Rising takes whale song as its point of reference. The song of the
whale has been closely studied by Ellias (b.1949) and is a constant throughout
the work. Elements of that strange language underpin and lift the music.
It is most clearly heard in the voice of David Mott's saxophone. Mott by
the way gives a sensationally virtuosic performance showing that John Harle
does not have the field to himself. The piece rises from a very deep but
quiet bass canon among the strings. It is unhurried, lugubrious and moves
in direct evocation of the stilly night of the deeps. The saxophone runs
the gamut of sounds to be extracted from the instrument. The pain and mewling
ecstasy of the climax at 21.12 is notably moving.
Keith Jarrett is a denizen of the jazz realms but has never taken the amorphous
boundaries of that world as a limitation. He moves as a free agent. He has
several orchestral works to his credit and is familiar to classical enthusiasts
from his Bach performances. The Elegy is the easiest of these three accessible
new works. It has little drama inhabiting a cosmos similar to that of the
string music of Finzi. Essentially this is one long pensive lento
with none of the angularity of Shostakovich. The smooth transit of the strings
and the closely (but not oppressively) recorded solo violin has a Bach-like
sense of peace. Eleonora Turovsky's violinistic voice traces the beloved
outlines with caressing tone.
A tendency to monotony is avoided by the presence of the slightly more
challenging Ellias piece. The Jarrett and Mozetich are at one level rather
alike although the former is more inventive and eventful.
Three works from the school of new melodics, suspensefully played and lovingly
recorded will appeal to all who have discovered the new tunefulness of Hovhaness,
Pärt, Nyman, Silvestrov, Rautavaara and Vasks. Contemporary music is
not difficult and is much broader and more varied than the prejudices built
up in reaction to years of Xenakis, Ferneyhough and Birtwistle might suggest.