Notes and Editorial Reviews
Kritik der Urteilskraft. Unknown Ground
A propos de Nice
New Music Ch Players;
Richard Jackson (bar)
METIER 28536 (78:22)
Michael Finnissy remains one of the most rewarding of composers in front of the public today. The sheer dedication of these performances, palpable throughout, seems to speak of the respect the performers have for him.
The tremendously quiet, unruffled surface of
Kritik der Urteilskraft
(Critique of Judgment, referring to Kant’s work of the same title) could only come from a composer of the utmost confidence. In effect, Finnissy creates a perfect new sound space for his ideas to resonate in. The more active sections seem to be gravitationally drawn back into the slow-moving swirl of the opening; later the space becomes even more rarefied. There is an overarching sense of lyricism here, and while the use of silence is Webernian/Cageian in the sense that it becomes an integral part of the ongoing experience, the melodies we hear are too long for either composer.
(1989/90) is scored for baritone, violin, cello, and piano. Finnissy again employs sparse textures, but this time the effect is very different. This desolate meditation on life and death sets seven poems: “I don’t think of death;” ”A patch of blackened earth”; “I was afraid”; “Our lives”; “I come from London”; “Trapped in crystal”; and “I am nearly blind.” There’s sheer fragility of some of the writing (“I was afraid of not being able to see the garden grow” sings the protagonist, against very bare, sustained strings). Richard Jackson is a superb soloist, his voice seemingly capable of registering every tiny nuance of the texts. Finnissy’s responses to the words he sets are magnificent. And daring. Sometimes he takes us to the limits of audibility, something which tests the control of the performers. True, this is challenging music, but infinitely rewarding.
A propos de Nice
, a piece which, while it was written to be used as music to a silent film of the same title (Jean Vigo, 1930), can also be performed as a separate concert piece. Immediately we enter a different world, one in which a multiplicity of gestures work both with and against each other. This is a kaleidoscopic score, performed with real virtuosity by the New Music Players. The excellence of the recording enables every detail to speak. Recommended, but not for the faint of heart.
FANFARE: Colin Clarke
Works on This Recording
Unknown Ground by Michael Finnissy
Richard Jackson (Baritone)
New Music Players
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