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Ludwig Van
Toronto Montreal

LEBRECHT LISTENS | Listening To David Matthews Is Two Generations Beyond Vaughan Williams

By Norman Lebrecht on May 3, 2019

David Matthews: 9th symphony (Nimbus Alliance)

★★★★ (out of five)

🎧 Spotify | Amazon

You may recognise the composer’s name as one of two brothers who assisted Deryck Cooke and Berthold Goldschmidt in creating the first performing edition of Mahler’s tenth symphony. Now 76, David Matthews has come a long way from those early Gustavian speculations. Where his brother Colin drew close to Benjamin Britten, David veered to the wilder fantasies of Michael Tippett while staying close to English roots and traditions.

His ninth symphony, receiving its world premiere on this release, is a kind of summation. Starting with a self-composed carol and extending to a Bach chorale, it represents the best of British creativity in its craftsmanship, its moderation and its lucid rationale. The language, while tonal, is two generations beyond Vaughan Williams and the narrative reflects something of a thinking man’s struggle to maintain a reasoned equilibrium in a threatened universe.

A violin solo in the third movement recalls The Lark Ascending, if only in its distant unattainability. Something of the late symphonies of Malcolm Arnold rises elliptically in the finale. This is a lovely symphony, an altogether personal utterance by a composer who lives and breathes symphonic form, who writes out of love for each and every instrument of the orchestra. Kenneth Woods conducts the sweet serenity that is the English Symphony Orchestra. The five movements are over all too soon in 26 minutes.

A set of variations for string orchestra and a double concerto for violin and viola round off the album. I am saving them for the weekend. This is music to hold close and to savour at leisure.

LUDWIG VAN TORONTO

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Norman Lebrecht

Norman Lebrecht is one of the most widely-read commentators on music, culture and cultural politics. He is a regular presenter on BBC Radio 3 and a contributor to the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Standpoint, Sinfini and other publications. His blog, Slipped Disc, is among the most widely read cultural sites online, breaking exclusive stories and campaigning against human abuse and acts of injustice in the cultural industries.

Norman Lebrecht

Norman Lebrecht is one of the most widely-read commentators on music, culture and cultural politics. He is a regular presenter on BBC Radio 3 and a contributor to the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Standpoint, Sinfini and other publications. His blog, Slipped Disc, is among the most widely read cultural sites online, breaking exclusive stories and campaigning against human abuse and acts of injustice in the cultural industries.
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Ludwig Van Toronto

SCRUTINY | Mundane Mysteries Is An Adventure In Theatre By Phone

By Paula Citron on May 20, 2020

Theatre by phone becomes an adventure over six days with Outside the March Theatre's The Ministry of Mundane Mysteries.
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LEBRECHT LISTENS | A Bauhaus Inspired Piano Album To Tweak The Ear

By Norman Lebrecht on May 15, 2020

Formed by an original idea and a lot of unfamiliar sounds to tweak the ear, there, are 27 tracks on this album and not one of them is dull.
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LEBRECHT LISTENS | Nikos Skalkottas — A Major Talent Long Overlooked

By Norman Lebrecht on May 1, 2020

For all his struggles and his misery, Greek composer Nikos Skalkottas was possessed of an extraordinary vitality, as evidenced in this new release.
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