Lieux Retrouvès... read more
Steven Isserlis, cello
Thomas Adès, piano
Four 'places remembered' by Adès make for a large 17-minute addition to the cello repertoire, and to the 40-something composer's list of triumphs. A more committed performance of this super-challenging, but wonderfully evocative music is hard to imagine. That same TLC is lavished on three modern-sounding arrangements by Liszt of piano pieces hurling his 'lance into the infinite sphere of the future.' Four short works of György Kurtàg will be very welcome to fans, while Faure's Cello Sonata No. 2 and Janàcek's Pohàdka (Tale) are fully competitive with a more robust performance catalog. A marvelously well-rounded and intelligent recital by major artists!
Symmetry Disorders Reach... read more
Symmetry Disorders Reach
Huw Watkins, piano
Wergo/Schott Music & Media
The title of this 15-movment suite in two books comes from a poem by W.H. Auden. If you are curious about British musical language between Britten and Adès, Alexander Goehr will be an elegant and rewarding discovery. The son of a great conductor who fled Nazi Germany, Goehr has roots in Schoenberg in the way that Britten did, but studied with Messiaen, thus imbibing the heady and color-drenched avant-garde French tradition. That being said, this collection of short pieces is chock-full of delights that parody baroque dances, Mozartian inventions, labyrinths and mazes. The performance is fantastic, but the recording seems a little bright and close.
Grá agus Bás... read more
Grá agus Bás
Iarla Ó Lionáird, sean-nós singer
Dawn Upshaw, Crash Ensemble
Alan Pierson, conductor
It seems I'm late to the party. Irishman Donnacha Dennehy is a year older than Adès, yet like him, this composer is making a gigantic splash. We were just introduced to his piano music at Jacaranda's summer party, so I snatched up this 2011 release. The title work (Love & Death) is a landmark — the first to incorporate notated sean-nós (old tradition) singing. Mr. Ó Lionáird, the greatest living exponent of this primordial style, performs with riveting intensity. Unforgettable! Upshaw brings considerable authority to a darker, more familiar song cycle. The voice has lost its freshness, but not its power. You will, no doubt, see more Dennehy Our Picks ahea
Complete String Quartets... read more
Complete String Quartets
The 83-year old composer, Russia's greatest living (in Hamburg, Germany), may yet surprise us, but producers of this exceptionally fine one-disc 2012 collection must have the confidence of the composer in declaring it complete. Gubaidulina is most concentrated in Nos. 2 & 4 (a total of 20 minutes!) and the Czech Stamic Quartet easily surpasses Kronos, who truly broke ground in this repertoire. The sound of rubber balls recorded & live on the strings (!) is whimsical as well as poignant — such are the innovations that make her music great. Like her mentor Shostakovich, Gubaidulina reveres Bach. Deeply felt rigor is among the aspects that link these artists.