ROBIN DE RAAFF (b.1968): Atlantis for Soprano, Baritone, 2 Harps, Chorus and Orchestra.
Catalogue Number: 01W056
Label: Challenge Classics
Description: This is an impressive sonic spectacle for vast forces, drawing inspiration from various manifestations of the Atlantis myth, but mainly from Hart Crane's extraordinary effusion of T.S.Eliot-worthy imagery and symbolism in his eponymous poem. The hugely ambitious work also incorporates texts from Plato and testimonials from survivors of natural aquatic disasters, with a fairly obvious veiled subtext about the melting icecaps and the risk of global inundation due to climate change. As in the symphonic works previously offered (07U070, 05S008), Raaff's music is characterized by its irrepressible, turbulent energy, and his distinctive sound-world, underpinned by the deepest bass sonorities available from the orchestra (especially appropriate to this work's progressive descent into the depths). The huge choir is blended into the orchestral texture in an unusual but highly effective way, becoming an extended instrumental group and creating a wall, or more accurately an ocean, of sound. When the content of the text is essential, it is given to the soloists, soaring above the dense swells of orchestral texture. The work is subtitled "In memoriam Pierre Boulez", an "island" of modernism that "sank" when he died (symbolism is everywhere in this piece!), who was an early mentor of Raaff's, but Boulez might well not have approved of Raaff's decidedly tonality-based recent idiom, the work as a whole following a chromatic descent through definite key centres, and its most strikingly monumental” effects being formed of huge chords in tonal harmony, massively orchestrated. Texts (English) included. Marisol Montalvo (soprano), Mark Stone (baritone), Netherlands Radio Choir and Philharmonic Orchestra; Markus Stenz.