JONATHAN DOVE (b.1959): Run to the Edge, The Ringing Isle, Airport Scenes, Gaia Theory, Hojoki (An Account of my Hut) for Countertenor and Orchestra.
Catalogue Number: 07V056
Label: Orchid Classics
Reference: ORC 100097
Description: Dove's blend of exhilarating energy and effortless melody is a breath of fresh air in the contemporary music world. Tonal and inventive, the music manages to be instantly accessible without ever sounding as though it has to make an effort to be ingratiating. It is fitting that his first major success was the 1997 opera Flight, as his music constantly seems to be about to take, well, flight, with buoyant harmony and irresistible rhythmic drive. Run to the Edge is a high energy thrill ride with an urgent pulsating energy and restless cross-rhythms; The Ringing Isle (as Handel called his adopted homeland) has a celebratory monumentality; here it is the change-ringing of English church bells that provides much of the musical material and the lively propulsive sequences of metamorphosing patterns (pre-minimalism?) of this thrilling curtain-raiser. Hojoki (An Account of My Hut), sets a thirteenth century text by the poet Kamo no Chōmei (1153-1216). The poet begins with philosophical reflections, framed by the composer in Mahlerian post-Romanticism. He then recounts a series of natural disasters that afflicted the people of Japan in the late 12th century. Here Dove's gift for musical storytelling comes into its own; the superbly dramatic music, pervaded throughout with the dynamism common to all his scores, alternates apocalyptic scenes of fire, famine, earthquake and flood with the poet's gently tragic reflections on the devastation left in their aftermath. Dove is perhaps the most sensitive and natural British vocal composer since Britten, and his exquisite word-setting for the aptly chosen strong, clear countertenor voice is exemplary in its gripping narrative and emotional eloquence. In the strong, delicate and profound final section the poet reflects on the peace he has found by withdrawing to a tiny hut in the mountains, in a moving Japanese equivalent of Yeats' "The Lake Isle of Innisfree". Flight begat Airport Scenes, a four-movement orchestral suite based on key episodes in the opera. Given the subject matter, the music is naturally airborne, propelled by the drive and pulse of post-minimalism of the John Adams type, full of irrepressible energy. This is also true of Gaia, based on James Lovelock's assertion that the Earth acts as a composite organism whose component parts, from climate to micro-organisms and everything in between, are engaged in a constant dance to regulate conditions such that they remain conducive to life. The music exudes life-affirming vitality in its repeated patterns both minimalistic and otherwise, dancing in rhythmic whorls, as the multitudinous partners in the dance swirl in their cosmically choreographed steps. The middle movement combines the flowing forms of John Luther Adams with the gentle, nebulous swells of Holst's Venus and Neptune. Texts included. Lawrence Zazzo (countertenor), BBC Philharmonic; Timothy Redmond.