ROBIN WALKER (b.1953): Great Rock is Dead: Funeral March, Odysseus on Ogygia: Prelude, Symphonic Poems The Stone King and The Stone Maker.
Catalogue Number: 06R070
Label: Toccata Classics
Reference: TOCC 0283
Description: It's no accident that three of these monumental tone poems' titles make reference to 'stone' or 'rock'. This is exactly the sort of music for which the term 'granitic' was coined. The composer's models for the kind of heroically proportioned natural formations in sound that he found himself envisioning as he searched for his personal voice were Wagner, Sibelius and Tchaikovsky, and the Romantic symphonic arc from darkness to triumph as epitomised by Beethoven. These influences - especially the first two - are very evident in these pieces. The 'Great Rock' who is dead is the composer's father; the work begins in shadow as a heavy-treading funeral march, and acquires greater formal freedom as it progresses as grief gives way to a sense of release from the influence of a powerful, omnipresent formative influence. The Stone Maker is a decade earlier than anything else here; the tonality is more extended, less modal (but remains tonality) in a kind of symphonic narrative from chaos and tumult to hard-won structure, form and resolution. The huge grinding mechanism that brings about this transformation reminds us that Walker greatly admires Birtwistle with whose music his shares monumentality, inexorability and stygian sonorities, if not at all his harmonic language. The Stone King, unlike Ozymandias, has withstood the ravages of time and destruction and stands as imposing as ever. The Prelude encapsulates the drama of the composer's opera on the Calypso episode from the Odyssey; the principal characters seem to be the hero exerting his will to escape the captivity of immortality and the angry ocean god; the sensuous, tragic nymph is only fleetingly glimpsed. Novaya Rossiya Symphony Orchestra; Alexander Walker.