BRIAN NOYES: Journeys after… = Points of Decision; Shadows of Memory – Moravian Philharmonic Orch./ Petr Vronsky & St. Petersburg State Sym./ Vladimir Lande – Navona Records NV5938 (2/25/14) [Distr. by Naxos] ***1/2:
This CD features two contemporary pieces by Welsh composer Brian Noyes. Based on the poetry of 19th-century writer John Clare (1793-1864). Noyes came across Clare’s works when he was a teenager, and his impact was felt dramatically. The two works presented here are musical interpretations of Clare’s poetry.
Points of Decision is performed by the Moravian Philharmonic conducted by Petr Vronsky. It’s a dissonant, and at times disturbing work, reflecting Clare’s poetry. Clare celebrated the nature of rural England and Wales, but he was troubled, alcoholic, and at some point later in life was confined to an asylum. Certainly, the music picks up this biographical theme, and for the musicians this one movement piece must have been a challenge to play.
The second work, Shadows of Memory is also dissonant and atonal, having a dreamlike quality that matches Clare’s poignant text. This work is presented by the St. Petersburg State Symphony, conducted by Vladimir Lande.
The recording is good, and doubtless quite representative of the two recording venues, one in the Czech Republic, the other in Russia. The recording is a bit dry, likely by design, but the microphones sound placed well back from the orchestra. I think the producing decisions work well with this type of music.
These 2 works by Noyes are not for everyone. They are strident by design and not a candidate for casual listening. But if you want to explore Noyes’ unique talent and artistic voice, this disc is worthy of a listen.
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