As I was compiling
this review I saw the one by Christopher
Thomas on this site. He goes into the
associations and themes that permeate
these two works so I’d refer you there
for those. I also find that I share,
to a large degree, his responses to
both the Concerto and Prometheus
I agree that the Concerto
is a big and powerful work, as befits
its subject matter, the sinking of the
Russian submarine Kursk. The
overwhelming chromaticisms of the opening
movement and the sinking, suspensory
motifs are both evocative and descriptive.
Which applies to what I take to be the
engine noises, percussive hammering,
the baleful horns, piano cadenza and
pom poms that all speak of catastrophe
as the movement ratchets up the tension.
Some of the writing is reminiscent of
Penderecki - .of the St Luke Passion,
say, a recent recording of which on
the same label and led by Antoni Wit
I reviewed here and which shows some
absorbing influences. By contrast the
string gauze in the second movement
is all quietude and the solo piano’s
occasional pointillist remarks add their
own layer of spiritual depth (the booklet
speaks of affinities with Arvo Pärt)
– against which the later more remonstrating
orchestral material battles, ultimately
in vain. The finale is clad in quasi-minimalist
hue – even though the percussion and
stridency remind one of the first movement.
The marimba-like ascending scale adds
a ghostly texture to the music but there
are simply too many competing stylistic
affiliations to allow the music to cohere.
Rather than start in disaster and reach
gradual apotheosis, the listener is
left more baffled than moved.
A Russian Orthodox
bass chant, taking a text from Revelations,
opens the second work, Prometheus
Wept subtitled August 6, August
9, 1945. It was written in remembrance
this time of those killed in Hiroshima
and Nagasaki. This is a relatively compact,
static work, strong on piety, short
on musical substance.
The notes, by the composer,
set out the polemic of the latter piece
and go into some discursive detail about
the former. A rather baffling disc,
difficult to really get to grips with.
see also review