Album: Heinz Holliger, Romancendres (ECM New Series)

Romancendres – a conflation of the French terms for romance and ashes – reflects Heinz Holliger's obsession with Robert Schumann's Romances, burnt by his wife Clara when the composer lapsed into mental illness.

Holliger's imaginative modernist response is to create a kind of "cinder music", a flare of energy leaving something dry and ashen in tone. It's an inquisitive piece in which cello and piano step tentaively around each other with the subtlety of the opening sections giving way to the hysterical intensity of "RS Flügelschlagen", in which the piano is attacked internally and cello plucked violently, before spiralling into silence. Absorbing and emotional, it's accompanied here by "Gesänge der Frühe", in which taped voices, choir and orchestra create a putative Schumann setting of a Hölderlin poem cycle.

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