ALISSA FIRSOVA (b.1986): Tennyson Fantasy for String Quartet, Op. 36, Bride of the Wind for Piano Duet, Op. 34, 2 Expressions for Clarinet and Piano, Op. 9, Loss for Clarinet Quintet, Op. 10, Fantasy for Cello and Piano, Op. 29, Here in Canisy for Soprano and Piano, Op. 22, Unity for Bass-Baritone and Piano, Op. 26.
Catalogue Number: 09U073
Description: As we remarked when we welcomed the valuable portrait disc of all three (11R073), Firsova is less of a modernist than her parents, fellow Soviet émigrés Edison Denisov and Elena Firsova. This disc of substantial and weighty pieces confirms this, while remaining thoroughly approachable. The Quartet, like a number of Firsova's pieces, has a poetic origin - in this case Tennyson - the composer is a friend of poets and has a finely-tuned responsiveness to the cadences and rhythms of language, as this (purely instrumental) work demonstrates. The language is that of late Romanticism, tonal but very near its boundaries - the vocabulary of the Schoenberg of the D minor quartet and Verklärte Nacht. The piano duet was inspired by Kokoschka's stunning, deliriously infatuated self-portrait with his lover, Alma Mahler, and the music is appropriately expressionistically saturated, its sudden, unanticipated harmonic juxtapositions venturing into Sorabjian territory. All the works have a poetic or philosophical core - in the case of the songs, also harmonically and melodically striking, both. The composer begins her booklet note with an account of her family's flight to the west, and this and the themes of loss, longing, a search for a 'paradise on earth' and a pervasive sense of melancholy throughout suggests that the pieces derive their emotional impact from a strong (perhaps not consciously acknowledged) element of autobiography. Texts included. Tippett Quartet, Alissa Firsova (piano). Simon Mulligan (duet piano), Mark van de Wiel (clarinet), Tim Hugh (cello), Ellie Laugharne (soprano), Nicholas Crawley (bass-baritone).