Notes and Editorial Reviews
Inventive and communicative settings with plenty of drama, in excellent performances and bright, clean recorded sound.
You would have to go a long way to find music as communicative and as uplifting as Michael Torke’s. What’s more, his compositions are uniquely individual and full of integrity. Listen to this disc, and you will find an essentially traditional harmonic language at work, but the result is most definitely music of today. Furthermore, for all Torke’s ingenious construction techniques, this is music straight from the heart; it’s also full of optimism.
The opening track of this disc, the orchestral prelude to his Book of Proverbs, is a perfect example of Torke’s style: lucid, invigorating and
wonderfully orchestrated. His settings of texts from the Bible’s Book of Proverbs abound in skilful musical device, but the meaning and power of the texts is never lost, and is quite frequently heightened and brought into sharper focus. A sense of momentum towards a climax is beautifully achieved throughout the work’s eight movements by Torke’s decision to expand the use of the chorus in each setting, until, in the final proverb ‘Boast not of Tomorrow’, the entire chorus sing together. Movement 6, ‘Drink our Fill of Love’, for baritone and men’s chorus, is for me one of the highlights: a veritable mini-drama, beautifully structured with a harmonic tension building to an impressive climax. Just the sort of sophisticated musical treatment of a text that one would find in a song by Stephen Sondheim.
To complete the disc, Decca has included the recording of Torke’s Four Proverbs which first appeared on the Argo label (1/95). Smaller in both duration and scoring (just solo soprano and small ensemble), it nevertheless possesses the same ingenuity, melodic inventiveness and immediate appeal of the larger work. Performances throughout the disc are uniformly excellent, and the recorded sound is clean, bright and atmospheric. A must for all enthusiasts of Torke’s music.
-- Michael Stewart, Gramophone [12/2000]
Works on This Recording
Four Proverbs by Michael Torke
Catherine Bott (Soprano)
Period: 20th Century
Date of Recording: 07/1993
Venue: EMI Abbey Road Studio No. 1, London
Length: 14 Minutes 45 Secs.
Book of Proverbs by Michael Torke
Kurt Ollmann (Baritone),
Valdine Anderson (Soprano)
Edo De Waart
Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra,
Netherlands Radio Chorus
Period: 20th Century
Date of Recording: 09/1996
Venue: Muziekcentrum, Hilversum, Netherlands
Length: 36 Minutes 43 Secs.
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