Nicolau has channelled much of his creativity into writing
for the mandolin and guitar - often for massed ensembles.
This grew from a rejection of Western things in the period
1950-1970. The song-and-dance-inspired op. 126 is called Dances
and Melodies and comprises five movements. Each carries
a traditional title although strangely some are in French.
Loosely speaking the feel of this music is comparable with
a Russian balalaika ensemble with much delicious resort to
massed tremolo. The penultimate movement is For Two Blue
Eyes and is darker and almost threatening. The music
has a slight Zorba accent and this is mixed with intimations
of Turkey and further East.
Badische Zupforchester returns for the op. 138 Zwei Goethe-Lieder which
pull off a lovely lilting mediation between lieder cantilena
and the massed style we know from the op. 126 work. These
two should make a stimulating and unpredictably disconcerting
contribution to any Lieder evening. They set two of the most
illustrious Goethe poems Gretchens Klage and Mignon.
drops away in favour of three guitars for the Three Dances op.
190. Here the style is more oblique, almost Webernian but
with crosscuts of Greek rhythmic fibre enlivened with much
tapping on the bodies of the instruments. The short oblique Nocturnal
Interlude is followed by a hummable feel-good Summer
Dance which deserves the widest coverage. It recalls
the writing of Rodrigo in the Concierto Madrigal.
Memoriam à Siegfried Behrend is strong and dissonant.
It is full of urgent fantasy, hysteria and fear amid the
tremolo and the quiet feral ululation of the swannee whistle.
ears this music will seem abstruse and exotic. It is recommended
for just these reasons.
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