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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 | Unlikely Pairing Of Orff And Korngold Hits The Spot In TSO Revival

By Joseph So on June 21, 2019

Jonathan Crow comes to the rescue. Runnicles' baton goes flying. Let's just say it was an exciting night of music making at the TSO with Orff's Carmina Burana and Korngold's Violin Concerto.
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THE SCOOP | Canadian Opera Company Shines At 2019 Dora Awards

By Michael Vincent on June 26, 2019

With a total of seven wins, it was the Canadian Opera Company's night at the 40th annual Dora Awards at the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts.
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COMMENTARY | Für Elise And The Great Classical Music Dumb-Down

By Peter Goddard on June 28, 2019

The international recording industry is in panic catch-up mode in response to raves for Lang Lang’s performance of Beethoven’s Für Elise.
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