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richard.md.scott@hotmail.co.uk (Newcastle upon Tyne, UK)

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Tristis Est Enima Mea
Tristis Est Enima Mea

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant contemporary choral music, 1 Jun 2008
This review is from: Tristis Est Enima Mea (Audio CD)
As is, there is very little information about this CD on amazon.co.uk, so I thought I'd give y'all the track list...

Wolfgang Rihm - Vigilia: 7 Passion Motets (excerpts)
1. Tristis est anima mea
2. Ecce vidimus eum
3. Velum templi scissum est
4. Tenebrae factae sunt

Salvatore Sciarrino
5. Responsorio delle tenebre a sei voci

Ivan Moody
6. Lamentation of the Virgin

Joanne Metcalf - Il nome del bel fior
7. Maria I
8. Quivi e la rosa
9. Maria II
10. Il nome del bel fior
11. Maria III
12. Io sono amore angelico
13. Maria IV

Wolfgang Rihm's '7 Passion Motets' are absolutely wonderful examples of modern choral writing. Beautiful melodic lines that meander through rolling polyphonic harmonies, always moving unpredictably from dissonance to consonance; major triad to cluster chord. Extraordinarily varied but consistently interesting pieces.

Salvatore Sciarrino's plain-chant-inspired 'Responsorio delle tenebre a sei voci' is a glorious, spiritual, microtonal essay based on a single tonal centre around which semitones and quarter-tones shift and colour the static but beautiful melody.

Ivan Moody's 'Lamentation of the Virgin' is rather different - this piece (and, as far as I can gather, much of the rest of his output) is very much in the line with the work of the "Holy Minimalists" (eg. Arvo Pärt and John Tavener - with whom Moody studied). It contains some gorgeous chord progressions, striking neo-Medieval ideas, and some incredible solo and duo lines.

Joanne Metcalf's 'Il nome del bel fior' is in several movements - a mixture of (mostly very difficult) solos, duos, trios, group pieces; and a combination of religious texts, melodies in Italian, and quasi-improvisatory word-less lines. This is a really lush ambient work.

The performers on this disc are Singer Pur (who I haven't heard before) and the Hilliard Ensemble (who I certainly have heard before...), and the quality of the singing is absolutely superb. The complex harmonies of the Rihm, the purity of the Sciarrino, they do everything perfectly. Brilliantly executed performances from both groups.
This is such a beautiful and interesting CD, it's such a pity that it can be difficult to get hold of. At the time of writing, there are a couple available 2nd-hand (which are amazingly cheap), but they seem to be quite rare. I got hold of it for the Sciarrino, fell in love with the Rihm, and discovered two other great composers previously unknown to me - oh, the wonders of Amazon...


Ligeti: String Quartets & Duets
Ligeti: String Quartets & Duets
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £6.92

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ligeti's music is flawless, but I expected a bit more from the Ardittis..., 26 May 2008
Since 1974, the Arditti String Quartet have done more for modern string quartet writing than any other one group has for any one genre (with the possible exception of the King's Singers...) And, as a big fan of this particular genre, I personally am very grateful to them for it. Which is why, when I bought this CD, I was surprised to find that the usual conviction and brilliance of their performance wasn't there. They have recorded many of my very favourite CDs, but this is simply not one of their best performances.

I have already written a review for the (significantly less well-known) Artemis Quartet's recording of these two incredible string quartets, giving it 5 stars. They really bring out the fire and life of the music, and I got a lot more from their playing.


Britten: Les Illuminations / Quatre Chansons Francaises / Serenade for Tenor, Horn & Strings
Britten: Les Illuminations / Quatre Chansons Francaises / Serenade for Tenor, Horn & Strings
Price: £7.00

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars this price is unnecessarily tiny. i would buy this for £30., 23 Mar 2008
I love Britten's music and Les Illuminations and Serenade are two of his most brilliant works. Felicity Lott sings wonderfully - she has a incredible technique and feel for the music, and the drama and excitement she puts into the performance make it even better. Anthony Rolfe Johnson is one of my very favourite singers, and my definite #1 for singing Britten (he has recorded quite a lot, and it is all perfect).

My only problem is the 4 french songs. I just don't like them. Of course, they are performed excellently, I just don't like them. But the fact that I'm still giving this CD 5 stars, despite these, surely is testament to the quality of the other two pieces...


Xenakis - Synaphai; Aroura; Antikhthon
Xenakis - Synaphai; Aroura; Antikhthon

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars music from another planet, 19 Mar 2008
I bought this CD for the first piece on it, Synaphai, on a whim, and I was not disappointed by it.
Synaphai is a wonderful piece. Within the musical environment here - the huge, searing quarter-tonal cloud of sound produced by the orchestra - you might think the restrictions of the piano would render it obsolete, but the atmosphere here is spectacular. The percussive piano notes shine out brilliantly, and Xenakis creates a completely alien sound world.
Aroura and Antikhthon are equally other-worldly, though not quite as interesting as Synaphai (that's what really stopped me giving it 5 stars), but all the music here is performed fantastically.

A very interesting CD, and a great one to get you started on Xenakis' music (DEFINITELY at this price...)


MacMillan: Seven Last Words From The Cross
MacMillan: Seven Last Words From The Cross
Price: £11.25

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I simply cannot commend this enough., 19 Mar 2008
MacMillan's Seven Last Words is one of the most truly brilliant pieces of modern music I have ever heard. Each movement is full of profoundly beautiful music and the way he combines modernist sounds with gorgeous tonal harmonies is very unique. The spirituality in this piece is very sincere and fantastically powerful, even to a non-believer like me.
The other two shorter pieces are not in quite the same league as the first, but I did love them too.
The performance here is impeccable. Polyphony are stunning in every recording I have heard of them, and the Britten Sinfonia too.

A musical and spiritual transubstantiation (MacMillan's words, not mine...) And, like I say, I cannot commend it enough! See for yourself...


Cage - The Complete String Quartets, Vol. 2 /THE ARDITTI QUARTET
Cage - The Complete String Quartets, Vol. 2 /THE ARDITTI QUARTET
Price: £12.35

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars cage at his most beautiful, 7 Dec 2007
John Cage's 'String Quartet in Four Parts' was the very first piece of his I heard, and it had me completely hooked. The music is incredibly calming and pure in both of these pieces, I was very lucky to find them both on the same CD. And the Ardittis are stunning all the time, you really can't fault them...

This CD is a fantastic way to listen to Cage for the first time. The only trouble is - these two pieces get you excited about discovering more of his music, but not that much of it is as good as what you'll hear here.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 22, 2013 10:42 AM BST


Adès: Powder Her Face
Adès: Powder Her Face
Offered by thebookcommunity
Price: £20.38

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I've got to disagree with `maestromouth' - this is the most important addition to modern opera since Death in Venice., 22 May 2007
This review is from: Adès: Powder Her Face (Audio CD)
Here Thomas Adès has presented us with a masterpiece. This opera is a cruelly human piece about the sexual exploits and proceeding trial of the Duchess of Argyll.

The composer and librettist (Philip Hensher) have created an incredibly moving work that explores the Duchess' unquenchable thirst for sex; the pitiless mockery of the various staff at the Hotel she's staying in; the unforgiving sentence of the Judge; the shameless hypocrisy of the jealous, condemning Duke; the overwhelming humiliation the Duchess suffers when she is finally asked to leave and tries to hold onto the last scraps of dignity she has.

The wonderful score Adès has written for this piece of incredible drama works perfectly. His compositional voice is fantastically versatile - combining Weill and Berg and his own extraordinarily original style.

This is a soberingly, profoundly, brutally beautiful work written by the most inspired and intelligent composer of the last 30 years.


Schubert Lieder
Schubert Lieder
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: £20.01

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars amazing music, amazing voice..., 11 May 2007
This review is from: Schubert Lieder (Audio CD)
"A-men" to John Little for complaining about the lack of a 6-star rating. This is a CD of the best songs ever written for anybody by anybody, ever, sung by the best interpreter of the best songs ever written for anybody by anybody, ever.

Incredibly beautifully, carefully, and thoughtfully performed - I take my hat off to you, Mr. Bostridge.


Artemis Quartet -  Ligeti: String Quartet Nos 1 & 2
Artemis Quartet - Ligeti: String Quartet Nos 1 & 2
Price: £9.49

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars immensely cool music, 9 May 2007
The 1st String Quartet by this genius of a composer is a fantastic blend of all the best elements of music - the 12 movements contain sections of heart-stopping rhythmic pace, sublime melodic gorgeousness, terrifying harmonic intensity, and at times, there's just something about this work that can make it seem strangely hilarious.

The 2nd String Quartet is significantly harder to listen to (certainly in terms of the much more complex harmonic language Ligeti found since writing his first one) but still yields some interesting things.

Although the performance by the Artemis Quartet isn't 100% clean in technical precision, the energy and drama they inject into this recording is perfect for the attitude of these pieces.

This guy is an incredible composer, and if you're looking for some other stuff by him, the Sonata for Solo Viola is fantastic, but if you're in the mood for slightly more light-hearted Ligeti, I would recommend the Six Bagatelles for Wind Quintet, which are amazing fun... (both of these are on the György Ligeti Edition 7)


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