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Raymond DEANE (b. 1953)
Ripieno (2000) [28:55]
Violin Concerto (2003) [24:39]
Samara (2005) [11:47]
Christine Pryn (violin)
RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra/Gerhard Markson
rec. National Concert Hall, Dublin, 2005 (Ripieno, Samara) and O’Reilly Hall, University College of Dublin, 2009 (Violin Concerto)
RTÉ CD 274 [65:00]
Experience Classicsonline

So far, Raymond Deane’s substantial and varied output has not been particularly well served – at least in terms of numbers of discs issued. As far as commercial recordings are concerned I can still mention a Marco Polo CD 8.225106 with three of his concertante works and a Black Box one (BBM 1014) with a few chamber pieces. I hope these two discs are still available. The present fairly recent CD offers three works composed between 2000 and 2005; and, as such gives an insight into his recent output.
Ripieno, effectively a concerto for orchestra, is in four parts played without a break. It opens calmly with a hushed trio for flutes. Lower strings enter adding new material and forming what the composer refers to as “the golden chord” – one that will recur repeatedly. Brass and percussion then enter with energetic material. The music becomes considerably more animated yielding to a hushed passage alternating celesta and solo strings. A restatement of the animated material brings the movement to its close. The second is an often delicately scored Intermezzo with much fragmented material and use of divided strings. The third movement is a scherzo in which piano and pitched percussion function as a concertino. The fourth movement is a substantial Passacaglia on fourteen pitches calmly stated by piano and celesta at the outset. Some material from the first movement is eventually restated. The movement ends calmly, the music simply evaporating. Ripieno is one of the finest works by Deane that I have heard so far. The scoring is masterly and colourful, which helps make this often demanding music ultimately quite rewarding.
The Violin Concerto is in fact Deane’s second. His first violin concerto Krespel’s Concerto was completed in 1990 and a recording of it by Alan Smale and the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland conducted by Coleman Pearce was – and may still be – available on the aforementioned Marco Polo disc. Like Ripieno, the Violin Concerto is in four movements: “two Preludes, Scherzo and Finale”. The first movement or prelude quotes from Schubert’s Der Leiermann. “Here Schubert’s Wanderer, instead of meeting the death that has seemed the inevitable conclusion of his Winterreise, contemplates further wanderings in the company of a strange old man that plies his barrel organ “ (the composer’s words). The second slow prelude revisits some of the same material while omitting the Schubert quote. The third movement is a vivacious Scherzo dispensing with strings and harp. The final movement opens with a deceptively simple dialogue between violin and piano often punctuated by aggressive orchestral outbursts. The music then apparently gathers considerable impetus while restating earlier material without any real attempt at synthesis. The movement is abruptly cut short with a final unresolved cadenza. Deane’s second violin concerto is virtuosic. Its solo part was devised for Christine Pryn to whom the work is dedicated. Her impeccable technique and committed musicality are simply stunning, and serve this demanding work well. Deane’s Violin Concerto may be less readily accessible than Ripieno or Samara, but it is a fascinating piece of music nonetheless.
Until now, I thought that Samara (with a capital S) was a Russian city. Now, I know that samara is “the winged seed of certain trees, disseminated by the wind”. The piece is based on a few ideas that keep alternating, as seeds blown by the wind. It opens almost graphically with a fleeting idea aptly suggesting winged seeds hovering in the air. This colourful and quite attractive work ends peacefully – just as it began. “Finally, all seeds dispersed, only the wind remains”. This often beautiful concerto should prove popular, were it given more exposure. I hope that this excellent performance will help.
Deane’s music may not always be “easy” or straightforward, but these three works may be amongst his most attractive and accessible. The music is colourful, superbly scored, full of vitality and often beautiful. This release is the best possible introduction to Deane’s music.
Hubert Culot


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