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Golden Age singers

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Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


Michael TORKE (born 1961)
An American Abroad (2001)
Jasper (1998)
Rapture (2000/1)a
Colin Currie (percussion)a;
Royal Scottish National Orchestra; Marin Alsop
Recorded: Henry Wood Hall, Glasgow, February 2002
NAXOS 8.559167 [61:20]

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Michael Torke’s music, which has been fairly well served by recording companies over the last few years, is straightforward, colourful, full of rhythms, unashamedly tuneful and direct in appeal. Some of his earlier works still bore Minimalist influences, later replaced by a more directional expression taking the listener "from A to B with the anticipation of C", as he himself puts it in his notes for the present release. His often exuberant and optimistic music is best summed-up, I think, in his lively Javelin composed for the 1996 Olympics. The works recorded here clearly display a similarly happy and positive music making. These are quite recent pieces, since the earliest one, Jasper was composed in 1998. Jasper, a tone poem in all but the name, was inspired by the place where it was composed, though it is conceived as a theme and variations on a seven-note diatonic melody (i.e. the white keys). This joyful, outdoor music breathes the same air as Javelin.

An American Abroad, "a travel-log, a slide-show of images" (the composer’s words), is an orchestral fantasy suggesting "the natural naïvety an American might feel travelling abroad". This is yet another telling example of this composer’s uninhibited, happy music making, evincing a penchant for outstretching the musical material. Quite attractive and enjoyable, it tends to ramble, and might have benefited from being a few minutes shorter.

The recent percussion concerto Rapture, written for and first performed by Colin Currie, is a brilliant and superbly crafted display of virtuoso writing using a wide-ranging array of instruments rather than merely relying on mallet instruments, as is now too often the case with many recent percussion concertos. Drums and Woods in the first movement is a lively, energetic Toccata with many insistent rhythms; while Mallets is the song-like second movement and Metals the final Rondo.

As already hinted at, Torke’s music does not plumb any great depths (though his superb choral Book of Proverbs, an altogether more serious piece, clearly demonstrates that he can do so); rather it is hugely entertaining. The music is also superbly crafted and unpretentious in its own way, which is one of its most endearing qualities. Present-day Americana, superbly played and recorded, to be simply enjoyed for what it is worth.

Hubert Culot



Gerard Hoffnung CDs

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British Music Soc.
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Sheva
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