The Soul Rests Eternal = Works of MIKE SHEPPARD – Soloists/English Ch. Orch./Steve Sidwell – Signum

by | Jul 27, 2011 | Classical CD Reviews | 0 comments

The Soul Rests Eternal = MIKE SHEPPARD: Prologue; Elegy for a Lost Son; Artemis & Orion; Despite the Falling Snow; Soliloquoy; Lullaby; The Soul Rests Eternal; Tintinnabulum;  A Remark You Made; Hymnus; Ripples 12; An Ordinary Tuesday; Ellie’s Theme; Epilogue – Caroline Dale, cello/ Mike Smith, percussion/ English Chamber Orchestra/ Steve Sidwell  – Signum 232, 56:15 [Distr. By Naxos] ***1/2:

It was a brush with death and a nearly-simultaneous loss of a close family member many miles away that led composer-performer-music businessman Mike Sheppard to resolve that life was simply too short to not be doing the things you love, which in his case was writing music. This album is the result of that decision, but it is more than a turning to a favorite muse, it is instead a deeply felt and almost embarrassingly personal reflection on death, life, bereavement, love, hope—all those simple things with easy answers.
The “pastoral” sensibilities of this music have been commented on in other reviews, mainly by British writers, and I won’t dwell on it mainly because I think it a tremendous oversimplification. Not everything that is reflective and long-lined is “pastoral”, and while I hear more than a smidgen of film music-type melody in these works—and good film music melody at that—the music ultimately defies stereotyping. It is all for cello and orchestra, and might work best taken in two or three separate doses, as the tone, while remarkably adept at describing various human emotional states, still maintains a basically slow and steady pulse that can wear down the unprepared. However, if you are one who is attracted to radio shows like the old Hearts of Space on NPR, this album would perfectly fit and fill an entire show.
Caroline Dale, winner of the first ever BBC Young Musician of the Year contest at the age of 13, and now principle cellist of the English Chamber Orchestra, plays with stunning clarity and exception warmth throughout, while the ECO is in absolutely top form.  It’s a risky thing for someone like Sheppard to share his sensitive and personal emotional core with an audience like this, but he does so with a lot of integrity and vision, as a man who has been reborn. I can think of many reasons to listen to this music, but none more profound than the fact that all of us can sees a mirror image of portions of our own souls in it. Warmly recommended.
— Steven Ritter

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