Classical album reviews: Simon Smith, John Tavener, Iestyn Davies

 

Simon Smith "Alfred Schnittke: Complete Piano Music" (Delphian)

This career-retrospective offers a fascinating glimpse of how a series of strokes affected Alfred Schnittke’s work, comparable to the changes between De Kooning’s pre- and post-stroke paintings. The youthful pieces are Romantic and Serialist exercises of varying charm, but the three Sonatas are something else entirely, crammed with sudden dynamic changes and unorthodox techniques. Piano Sonata No 1 is the longest and most striking: within two minutes, it goes from the most liminal of openings to a single note being hammered, with increasing speed and ferocity, over two dozen times. It then unfolds into a harrowing journey through extended dissonance a vast expressive range captured by Simon Smith with extraordinary sensitivity, detail and emotional commitment.

****

Download: Piano Sonata No 1;  Piano Sonata No 2; Piano Sonata No 3

John Tavener "The Veil of the Temple" / "Eternity’s Sunrise" (Signum Classics/ Harmonia Mundi)

Reissued to commemorate the composer’s recent passing, both these albums share the crucial component of Patricia Rozario’s otherworldly soprano. The Veil of the Temple is a 2-CD, 150-minute condensation of an ecumenical vigil intended to last the entire night through till dawn, drawing on various strands of Christian belief; Eternity’s Sunrise draws together five shorter works of texts taken from Blake, Seferis, Sappho and the Orthodox funeral service. The performances reflect Tavener’s instruction that they should be “sung and played with restrained ecstasy” rather than excitement or melancholy, a guidance that ensured the “Funeral Canticle” made a sublimely peaceful send-off for the composer’s father.

****/****

Download: Eternity’s Sunrise; Song of the Angel; Funeral Canticle; The Veil of the Temple

Iestyn Davies "Your Tuneful Voice: Handel Oratorio Arias" (Vivat)

Iestyn Davies brings a grace and calm entirely appropriate to these Handel arias. The stepped ornamentation of “Mortals Think That Time Is Sleeping” is no showboating exercise, but an elegant ascent of a sweeping staircase, to the courtly accompaniment of the King’s Consort’s early-instrument blend of alto recorder, chamber organ and strings. Elsewhere, restrained pizzicato and a flowing oboe line carry “Tune Your Harps to Cheerful Strains”, swashbuckling strings and fanfaring horns drive “Mighty Love Now Calls to Arms”, and in a baroque extension of a Purcellian format, solo trumpet emphasises the sombre nobility of his phrasing on “Eternal Source of Light Divine”. Throughout, Davies’ control is remarkable.

****

Download: O Sacred Oracles of Truth;  Mortals Think That Time Is Sleeping;  Eternal Source of Light Divine

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars with Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders II

TV
Arts and Entertainment

art
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West is on his 'Yeezus' tour at the moment

Music
Arts and Entertainment
Rob James-Collier, who plays under-butler Thomas Barrow, admitted to suffering sleepless nights over the Series 5 script

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence star in new film 'Serena'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Some might argue that a fleeting moment in the actor’s scintillating, silver-tongued company is worth every penny.

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Colin Firth stars as master magician Stanley Crawford in Woody Allen's 'Magic in the Moonlight'

film
Arts and Entertainment
U2 have released Songs of Innocence in partnership with Apple

musicBand have offered new record for free on iTunes
Arts and Entertainment
Brad Pitt stars in David Ayer's World War II drama Fury

film
Arts and Entertainment
Top hat: Pharrell Williams

music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week