Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

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Len Mullenger:

WHALE SPIRIT RISING: MARJAN MOZETICH Fantasia .. sul linguaggio perduto for string orchestra (1981) 14.16 BRIAN ELLIAS Whale Spirit Rising for strings and baritone saxophone (1985) 26.24 KEITH JARRETT Elegy for violin and string orchestra (1985) 18.28
Eleonora Turovsky (violin) David Mott (sax) I Musici de Montreal/Yuli Turovsky   rec Canada 1996-1997 CHANDOS NEW DIRECTION CHAN 9748 [59.18]

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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.


Rob Barnett


Rob Barnett

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