Thomas Adès / Anthony Marwood / Simon Rattle

Thomas Adès: Tevot; Violin Concerto

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Thomas Adès continues to transcend predictability and amaze with the technical sophistication and expressive depth of each new composition. The four orchestral works recorded here were written between 2005 and 2007, although one of them is a suite arranged for full orchestra of three pieces from his 1995 chamber opera Powder Her Face. Tevot, the longest work, takes its title from the Hebrew word for arks, suggesting imagery of vessels -- the Ark of the Covenant and Noah's Ark -- but which in contemporary usage also refers to musical bars. It is certainly harmonically and rhythmically complex music, but for the curious, attentive listener, it's not hard to follow, and it makes sense as a richly variegated but coherent artistic experience. Its opening imagery evokes an awe-inspiring cosmic vastness, but about two-thirds of the way through, its various elements coalesce into a striking stretch of music of delicate equipoise and serenity. The Berliner Philharmoniker, for whom the piece was written, plays with passion and enormous virtuosity under the assured leadership of Simon Rattle, long one of the composer's most enthusiastic supporters. The Violin Concerto "Concentric Paths," occupies a soundworld in many ways similar to that of Tevot in its tone of mystery and transcendence, as well as its exploration of extremes in register, timbre, and emotional content, and the piece has a comparable communicative directness. Violinist Anthony Marwood and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, conducted by the composer, deliver ardent, radiant performances. The National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, led by Paul Daniel, plays the suite from Powder Her Face with sparkling panache. The tone of the music is giddy and lightweight, an enormously entertaining testimony that Adès is as skilled at comedy as he is in expressing the most sophisticated profundity. EMI's sound is clean, warm, and atmospheric. The CD should be of strong interest to fans of new music for orchestra.

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