> RANDS Madrigali [HC]: Classical CD Reviews- Oct 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around 2023
Approaching 60,000 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Bernard RANDS (born 1934)
Madrigali (1977)
Metalepsis II (1971)a
Triple Concerto (1997)b
Rickie Weimer (mezzo-soprano)a; The Ineluctable Modalitya; The Core Ensemble (Andrew Mark, cello; Hugh Hinton, piano; Michael Parola, percussion)b; Cleveland Chamber Orchestra; Edwin London
Recorded: no indications, but probably 1998
ALBANY TROY 355 [62:25]


AmazonUK   AmazonUS

The British-born composer Bernard Rands studied with Luciano Berio who has since become a firm friend; and all three works here are connected with Berio in one way or another. The first performance of Metalepsis II, dedicated to Bruno Maderna, was conducted by Berio whereas Madrigali was undoubtedly inspired by Berio’s own transcription of Monteverdi’s Il Combattimento. Finally, Rands’ most recent piece in this release Triple Concerto is dedicated to Berio.

Berio, however, also had a lasting musical influence on Rands’ own music, and some earlier works such as Canti Lunatici (1980) and Metalepsis II (1971) certainly call Berio to mind, not only for the music but also for the way in which Rands approaches word setting (and also his choice of multi-lingual ‘libretto’). Central to Metalepsis II is John Wain’s poem Wildtrack which deals with the subject of tyranny as symbolised in the lives of Joseph Stalin and Henry Ford. (Rands also composed three works titled Wildtrack, which does not say much since Wildtrack 2 [1973] has words by Samuel Beckett.) Actually the composer centres his work on a shorter passage from Wain’s poem subtitled Hymn to Steel: For 5 Million Human Voices and adds various quotations from Chairman Mao, the Pope (which one we are not told) and passages from the Latin Mass. Most texts in different languages nevertheless deal, so we are told, virtually with the same issues. Such variation technique, as it were, thus emphasises the global emotional and even social impact of the work which, musically speaking, is rather similar to Berio’s own Laborintus 2, though the basic idea is quite different. Rands conjures up a troubled world in which many voices strive to be heard without necessarily being always successful in doing so. Rands’ music here runs the whole gamut of modern vocal techniques as encountered in many works by Berio and his contemporaries, but always aiming at direct communication which it achieves in an almost visceral way. Metalepsis II may be experienced as a "non-denominational Requiem Mass for all who suffer at the hands of tyrants – political, religious and commercial"; but it also is, in its own way and for all its complexity and sophistication, a powerfully impressive protest work.

As already mentioned, Madrigali refers to Berio’s own preoccupations with the music of Monteverdi. So, the materials of the five short movements of Madrigali (incidentally, each movement is dedicated to former students of Rands) are derived from or based on the musical characteristics found in Monteverdi’s Eighth Book of Madrigals without actually quoting any of it, except in the last movement. Thus the music explores some Monteverdi musical characteristics and sets them into some new musical context. Madrigali, scored for chamber orchestra, is a beautiful and fascinating orchestral homage both to Monteverdi and Berio, as well as a wonderful essay in subtle, luminous scoring.

The more recent Triple Concerto, dedicated to Berio, of which the present recording is its world premiere, was commissioned by the Core Ensemble (cello, piano and percussion). The title obviously refers to the solo trio but also to the fact that the orchestral forces are divided into three smaller groups, each of them being associated with one of the soloists. Thus, cello and Ensemble III, piano with Ensemble I and percussion with Ensemble II. Most of the work’s unfolding process consists in interplay and confrontation between the soloists and between the three instrumental groups (with or without their soloist). This is a substantial work full of passion and lyricism, colour and energy; and one of Rands’ most approachable and attractive works

Performances are excellent throughout and are superbly recorded.

This wonderful release undoubtedly provides for a thought-provoking survey of Bernard Rands’ musical journey and also a good introduction to his often beautiful sound world and his honest and serious musical thinking; and it is thus warmly recommended.

Hubert Culot

Return to Index

Error processing SSI file