9 April 2018

Follow-up on my recent chance discovery of Piers Hellawell (see my blog post from March 29): received, heard and reviewed Piers Hellawell: Inside Story for violin, viola and orchestraThe Still Dancers for string quartetQuadruple Elegy (in the time of freedom) for violin and chamber orchestra. Metronome Recordings MET CD 1059 (2002) and found that it entirely lived up to its promise. “The music of Hellawell is much of what I wish for when I listen to contemporary music: its language is advanced and demanding enough – no neo-romantic, clowingly sentimental film-music like gestures here, a genre in which many prominent composers seem to revel these days – but not intractably “avant-garde” either (vade retro, Ferneyhough and Wuorinen!); busy orchestrally, very colorful and atmospheric, loud at times and dramatic, dynamic and propulsive in the outer movements in a manner – oh very vaguely – reminiscent of Walton’s First Symphony. But also extremely lyrical – again, not the sentimental and mawkish lyricism of the reactionary neo-romantics, not a lyricism that whines, a passionate lyricism that scorches”. Although Hellawell occasionally uses some “advanced” performance techniques and modes of sound production,  there’s nothing that strikes me as truly “ground-breaking” in his music, but he seems to me to offer a superb synthesis of “the old and the new”.

Comments are welcome