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Blake: Spieltrieb/ A Month In The Country/ String Trio CD
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In addition to his distinguished career as a pianist and conductor, Howard Blake is a popular and prolific composer who has received an OBE for services to music. Besides film scores (which include the extraordinarily successful and popular The Snowman), choral, orchestral and instrumental works, ballets and opera, his output includes much chamber music. This programme brings première string quartet recordings of the award-winning music for A Month in the Country and the famous Walking in the Air theme from The Snowman. New discoveries emerge in the sensual and atmospheric ballet Leda and the Swan, and a specially revised String Trio. One of Britain's foremost and senior ensembles, The Edinburgh Quartet celebrated its fiftieth anniversary with the commission of Blake's dramatic Spieltrieb.
Howard Blake is best known for his film and ballet scores, several of which are included here as revised suites to accompany the newly-commissioned Spieltrieb. His music for the 1986 film A Month In The Country, about recovering Great War casualties, is gently pastoral until darkness falls with the mix of pathos and terror in the third movement Elegy, in stark contrast to the languorous sensuality of his ballet suite Leda And The Swan and the wistful "Walking In The Air", from The Snowman. There are affinities with, variously, Arvo Pärt, Bernard Herrman and Beethoven, and a succession of emotionally-involving themes are skilfully negotiated by the Edinburgh Quartet. *** --Independent,15/07/11