The Dante Trilogy consists of three modernist ballets by Charles Wuorinen: The Mission of Virgil (1993), The Great Procession (1995), and The River of Light (1996), which correspond to the Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso of La Divina Commedia by Dante Alighieri. Without attempting to depict the poem's otherworldly narrative through scene painting, Wuorinen instead supplies stark tableaux and brooding atmospheres that suggest the action and allow the imagination to roam freely through Dante's cosmology. Pianists Richard Moredock and Cameron Grant present the first ballet in a reduced version for two pianos, and Oliver Knussen leads the Group for Contemporary Music in the chamber versions of the second and third ballets. All the musicians deliver the spiky, angular, intensely active, and frequently violent music with crisp rhythms, bright timbres, and forceful attacks, and the virtuoso performances are remarkably tight, with precise attacks and impressively brisk tempos. As usual, Naxos provides exceptionally clean and responsive recording, so the wide ranges of dynamics and pitches are captured with the presence and clarity of a live concert, and every note is audible, thanks to careful microphone placement, though a few extraneous background noises have been picked up as well.
AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Mission of Virgil, ballet in 7 parts|
|The Great Procession, ballet|