MUSIC: Sweet Georgian brawn
BBC SO / John Nelson RFH, London
Wednesday 08 February 1995
Kancheli himself already has a reputation here, albeit largely among CD-buyers. Georgian by origin, he is the author of music purveying a strange calm disrupted by awesome outbursts of terror. The instrumental language combines the violence of programmatic Shostakovich with the spiritual ambit of Gorecki. Some who find Schnittke overblown, or over-promoted, have offered Kancheli as a perfect antidote, mixing glimpses of the abyss with the serenity of Part or Tavener.
Light Sorrow proved typical of the composer. With Britten's War Requiem as a model, it blended texts from different sources - Shakespeare, Goethe and the Georgian poet Galaktion Tabidze - in a moving lament dedicated "to children, the victims of war". Two trebles, entering to the background of a prolonged organ note, were complemented by the voices of the New London Children's Choir, impeccably trained by Ronald Corp and arrayed both behind and within the orchestra.
As in Kancheli's seven symphonies, the music traversed the same landscape many times, though always from an individual perspective. There was an unmistakably personal presence in the sudden, ear-splitting climaxes and the grief-laden string lines in between, laced at one point with the cool sounds of harp and spinet. But it was the way of contrasting the two worlds that seemed most idiosyncratic, and most appropriate to a piece drenched in the sorrow of shattered childhood. Though time will prove the ultimate test of this idiom and of its power to rival either the ferocity of Schnittke or the calm of other "faith minimalists", Sunday's audience found its effect positive and immediate.
In Mahler's Fourth, too, the dream of innocence becomes, for a while, a nightmare. Butwhereas Kancheli conjures his vision from a few simple ideas, Mahler, as Deryck Cooke observed, offers "an endless supply of significant material". Nelson cut no corners in leading this flow to its concluding child's view of heaven, sung with warmth and purity by soprano Sylvia McNair. Refined woodwinds gave vivid reality to the first movement; and, while the Scherzo flagged, Nelson's strong, alert phrasing gave an added purpose to the sublime Adagio, with nothing overstated, every note in its proper place.
Review: Of Mice and Men
By opportunistic local hoping to exhibit the work
Fans will be hoping the role finally wins him an Oscar
What do gigantic horse heads tell us about Falkirk?
Finnish Postal Service praises the 'self irony and humour' of the drawings
The actor has confessed to his own insecurities
Allotments are the focus of a new reality show
Arts & Ents blogs
The food poverty scandal that shames Britain: Nearly 1m people rely on handouts to eat – and benefit reforms may be to blame
Scottish independence: It is the English who should be on their knees, begging the Scots to vote ‘No’
'Sinful': Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy comes under attack
Nigel Farage: I’m taking on the status quo, and the Establishment’s fighting back
Abdullah Deghayes: My son was the martyr of a just cause, says father of British teenager killed in Syria conflict
Ukraine crisis: Helicopter gunships take country closer to all-out war
- 1 Chelsea 1 Sunderland 2: Graceless reaction of Jose Mourinho a sad effort to hide his own flaws
- 2 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 3 Unbeliebable: The White House offer 'no comment' to anti-Justin Bieber petition
- 4 Loch Ness Monster found on Apple Maps?
- 5 Shropshire criminals ‘using unmanned drones and infrared cameras to find illegal cannabis farms’ – and then steal from the growers