20th century British Works for Solo Cello

DAVID MATTHEWS (b.1943): Songs and Dances of Mourning, RICHARD DRAKEFORD (1936-2009): Suite No. 2, HILDA PAREDES (b.1957): Zuhuy Kak, JAMES DILLON (b.1950): Eos, JOHN MAYER (1929-2004): Sannyasin.

Catalogue Number: 12V052

Label: First Hand Records

Reference: FHR45

Format: CD

Price: $19.98

Description: Organist Kevin Bowyer once said that he could happily listen to Ronald Stevenson reading the phone book, such were his oratorical gifts. One might feel moved to remark that to hear the remarkable Rohan de Saram play it would be even more rewarding, and over the course of an illustrious 60-year career (how is he already 80?!), he has pretty much done everything but. As a founding member of the Arditti Quartet he became known for playing the most ferociously difficult contemporary works, but his repertory and scope of enthusiasm has always been much wider than that, as this varied and well balanced recital clearly demonstrates. Drakeford was a student of Howells and Rubbra, and his attractive Suite is tonal and modelled on a Bach suite, with a Sarabande and fugato among its movements, though one may also detect influences such as Shostakovich and Rawsthorne. Matthews also adheres to a tonal vocabulary, though less conventionally so. His emotionally intense Songs and Dances of Mourning, written in memory of his father in 1976 and revised twice, is the largest (at almost half an hour), and in some ways the most ambitious work here. Full of the innovative but never 'extended' string writing familiar from Matthews' important series of string quartets, the work follows a dramatic trajectory through a series of moods from mourning, songful lament, bitter and vehement protest to a concluding solemn chaconne which gradually increases in intensity to an almost unbearable level, crowning one of Matthews' darkest and most compelling chamber music works. Paredes' work refers to a Toltec fire ritual and to Sri Lankan drumming. The piece makes ample use of pizzicato glissandi and crescendi on chords to create unusual textures. As it progresses it becomes increasingly rhythmic and demonstrative in expression. Dillon's evocation of the Greek goddess of dawn is the most 'modern' work here, with microtonally 'bent' pitches like a strange archaic chant or horn call, and fragments of texture in indeterminate pitch. Gradually the music gains textural weight, activity and complexity before arriving at an unexpectedly consonant conclusion. Mayer's Sannyasin refers to Hindu ascetics who deliberately renounce the world , in four brief movements that combine the Western classical tradition with elements of Hindustani music in an attractive, atmospheric suite. Rohan de Saram (cello).


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