Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

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Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


Dave HEATH (b.1956)
Sirocco - concerto for violin, oboe and chamber orchestra (2001)
The Celtic - concerto for violin and string orchestra (1994)
Home from the Storm for flute and chamber orchestra (1984)
The Sapphire for oboe and chamber orchestra (2000)
Requiem The Beloved for soprano, treble, oboe, choir and organ (2001)
Lochalsh for solo violin (1995)
Ittai Shapira (violin) (Sirocco, Celtic)
Rusen Gunes (viola) (Celtic)
John Anderson (oboe) (Sirocco, Sapphire)
William Bennett (Storm)
English Chamber Orchestra/Dave Heath
Angela Tunstall (sop) (Requiem)
Jonathan Rendell (treble) (Requiem)
Simon Nieminski (organ) (Requiem)
Choir of St Mary's Cathedral, Edinburgh (Requiem)
David Thomas (oboe) (Requiem)
rec. Sony Music Studios, London 31 Aug 2002 (Celtic, Lochalsh); Abbey Road, London, 13 Feb 2002 (Sirocco), St Mary's Episcopal Cathedral, Edinburgh 25 Aug 2001 (Requiem), DDD
world premiere recordings except The Celtic and Lochalsh
BLACK BOX BBM1083 [68.46]


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Dave Heath, born in Manchester, has been handsomely treated here with three substantial multi-movement orchestral works each of three movements. These are interspersed with three single movement pieces.

Sirocco proceeds furiously and peacefully. The furious sprint of some of the music is reminiscent of Bartók though Heath is not as thorny as late Bartók and he is more lyrical. Despite its declared ‘roots’ it is not specially 'ethnic' in a North African sense. Heath instead successfully articulates the essentials of the Arabian experience - loneliness, the hint of the strange swaying caprice that Westerners associate with the region all meshed with a modern approximation of The Lark Ascending. The work is played by its dedicatee Ittai Shapira. Heath has essayed Celtic works before - the Celtic Concerto was written for Cleo Gould in 1994. She premiered it with the BT Scottish Ensemble. Shapira lays into this work with a will and the Ceilidh first movement has insistent spiritual echoes of Vaughan Williams' Violin Concerto and Holst's Double Violin Concerto. Just as with Sirocco the middle movement (Lament for Collessie) is the longest - about as long as the flanking movements put together. It speaks most movingly of Heath's sadness at leaving the township of Collessie in Fife, Scotland where he had made some very good friends. As the movement proceeds it becomes more and more like a contemplative caoine. The Cooper of Clapham finale is hoarsely busy - and folksy though not specially Scottish - again we are talking Holst in neo-classical vein as in the Fugal Concerto or the Fugal Overture. By the way, Cooper is the British flute maker Albert Cooper - an obsessive perfectionist.

Home From the Storm derives from a melody Heath wrote in 1984 but orchestrated for these sessions. Its inspiration is one of Heath's heroes, the flautists William Bennett who plays the piece here. Rather as Rautavaara added sound effects (birdsong) to his Cantus Arcticus so Heath adds tapes of the sounds of rain and wind to add atmosphere. It makes for a meltingly lovely piece. You can think of it as a cousin to the lyrical sections of Philippe Sarde's score for Polanski's Tess and Richard Rodney Bennett's music for Far From the Madding Crowd and Lady Caroline Lamb.

The Sapphire is coloured by the sound of the bagpipes - more clamantly Caledonian than in the Celtic concerto - through John Anderson's oboe solo. The piece is sweetly good tempered and mellow. The title derives from the name of Heath's daughter, Naima Sapphire. Lochalsh was another work written for Clio Gould but here played by Ittai Shapira. It is a display piece which puts the soloist through most of the paces. There is a passing resemblance to the wild theme from Ravel's Tzigane. The composer refers to harmonies influenced by those of John Coltrane.

Both Home From the Storm and The Sapphire would make for perfect competition pieces no doubt arranged 'down' for piano accompaniment.

The performance of Requiem recorded here is from a live concert on 25 August 2001. It is an extremely unconventional work with much of it spoken at first and no instrumental accompaniment. In fact the only instrument is the organ. It is a Requiem for Paul Medrington, a close friend of the Heath children, Liam and Calum, who died aged five in a tragic accident. The Requiem is earthy - reflecting not only the mother's loss but also her anger with those who she asked to watch him. The soprano voice is that of the mother; the treble that of Paul. This is an extremely moving work and I recommend it strongly. What it does it does with simple means rather than sophistication.

This disc would have been a natural for reviewer Neil Horner but I had a sneaking suspicion I would warm to this music.

Thanks are due to the Scottish Arts Council who funded this recording. Let us hope that the SAC can also be relied on to support other revivals. Are the SAC even aware of Eric Chisholm's turbulent pair of 1930s symphonies (Chisholm did so much to place Scotland on the international cultural map during the 1920s and 1930s) and Hindustani piano concerto. They could also profitably turn their funding support towards Ronald Stevenson's music - commissioning from him the completion of the great Ben Dorain epic and recording the violin concerto and the cello concerto.

Perhaps more practical would be a similar CD of the orchestral works of Eddie McGuire such as Source, Calgacus and the utterly masterly Gaelic song cycle which I remember Anne Lorne Gillies singing with the BT Scottish Ensemble in Stornoway at the Nicolson Institute in the late 1980s.

Rewarding stuff in an accessible though not dumbed down way.
Rob Barnett


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