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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    


Dave HEATH (b.1956)
African Sunrise/Manhattan Rave

Darkness to Light (Light Section and Complete Version) (1997)
African Sunrise (1995)
Manhattan Rave (1995)
Dawn of a New Age (1999)
Evelyn Glennie, percussion
John Harle, saxophone
Philip Smith, piano
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Dave Heath
Recorded at Abbey Road (Studios 1 & 2), London, 3rd and 6th June 2000
BLACK BOX BBM1051 [54.07]
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Dave Heath is something of a musical touchstone for this listener. Both his Manchester and Celtic connections, visited, in this instance, in the influences of rave and folk music, are also ones very close to my musical heart. The fruits of Heath's collaboration with the brilliant Scottish percussionist Evelyn Glennie, recorded here show it to be an inspired and entirely apt one. Certainly, between them they have been responsible for some of the most invigorating yet wholeheartedly musical expositions of the contemporary scene in recent years exemplified by Glennie's ground-breaking premiere recording of James MacMillan's superb Veni, Veni Emmanuel.

Regarding this release, the composer's ongoing debt to modern jazz remains a constant, if in a slightly more refined form than in his earlier pieces (e.g. Out of the Cool), with Chick Corea and Gary Burton's legendary ECM collaboration Crystal Silence cited as a major influence on Darkness to Light, different versions of which open and close this CD. The centrepiece of the disc is the highly percussive African Sunrise/Manhattan Rave which, it has to be admitted, is light years removed from the standard Musicweb fare. The music, particularly in the Manhattan section, is sample heavy and pop-aware, and you will no doubt love or hate it but, either way, the opportunity for virtuosity that it affords Glennie is stunningly realised.

Dawn of a New Age represents the more lyrical side of Heath's muse and revisits the Celtic themes of Heath's superb Linn recording of the violin and flute concerti (The Celtic and The Connemara), although again it still finds room for elements drawn from the rave/acid house scene of the early to mid nineties. As if further recommendation were necessary, it features the superb saxophone playing of the ubiquitous John Harle and is, for me, the musical high point of a very interesting if often frenetic disc. Asked to describe Dave Heath and his work, I would say, no doubt at the risk of being accused of hyperbole, that he is a slightly younger, British answer to John Adams. The same sense of respect for tradition working alongside a real ear for the best of "modern" links the two composers. An American Heath could quite easily have come up with I was staring at the ceiling… whereas there is not a great deal of distance between Heath's transmutation of Celtic folk themes in Four Elements (especially Celtic Air) and Adams' essay on the New England shape-note tradition in his clarinet concerto (Gnarly Buttons). As an entry point to Heath's world, I would buy the Linn disc first but this one is also great and Glennie fans need not hesitate.

Neil Horner

 

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Introduction

Darkness to Light (light section)

African Sunrise

Manhatten Rave

Dawn of a New Age

Movement 2

Darkness to Light (complete version)



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