BBC Music Magazine - - Orchestral -

Knot­ted Tongues; Of Time and Dis­il­lu­sion­ment; In Ictu Oculi

BBC Na­tional Orches­tra of Wales/ Christoph-mathias Mueller Pal­adino Mu­sic PMR 0092 54:42 mins Ken­neth Hes­keth is a com­poser at the height of his con­sid­er­able pow­ers. Born in Liver­pool in 1968, his mu­sic is sat­u­rated with an An­glo-french modernism in­formed by fig­ures from Du­tilleux to Knussen, and in­ter­ests from clas­si­cal ar­chi­tec­ture to me­dieval iconog­ra­phy. These three re­cent or­ches­tral works show­case to bril­liant ef­fect his deep­en­ing fas­ci­na­tion with sci­en­tific and other philoso­phies of ex­is­tence.

En­tropy and mu­ta­tion, Me­mento Mori, and Carte­sian the­o­ries of hu­mans as un­re­li­able ma­chines – such hu­man­ist pre­oc­cu­pa­tions give rise to a purely mu­si­cal, ab­stract ap­proach to sound and struc­ture. The re­sult is an ex­hil­a­rat­ing and beau­ti­ful, some­times dis­turb­ing, syn­ergy of form and ex­pres­sion, couched in mu­sic that’s as richly de­tailed as it is macro­scopic.

Key to Knot­ted Tongues (2012-14) and In Ictu Oculi (2017) is the propul­sive rup­ture and re­build­ing of mu­si­cal blocks. Part of a la­tent cy­cle of works, the for­mer ex­plores how new states arise from de­cay, here pitch­ing fore­ground ma­te­rial against en­velop­ing, bil­low­ing clouds of notes. The lat­ter ex­plores labyrinths and mazes in three com­pelling med­i­ta­tions upon time and tran­sience. Ra­di­ant with colour yet darkly tense, the cer­tainty of death is ac­cepted rather than mourned as part of a greater process.

Of Time and Dis­il­lu­sion­ment (2016) is scored for a smaller orches­tra than is typ­i­cal for Hes­keth. Within its five-sec­tion sym­me­try, a lean­ness and clar­ity of line al­lows the mag­nif­i­cent BBC Na­tional Orches­tra of Wales to en­joy in­di­vid­ual as well as col­lec­tive vir­tu­os­ity un­der ex­pert con­duc­tor Christoph-mathias Mueller.



An ex­hil­a­rat­ing and beau­ti­ful syn­ergy of form and ex­pres­sion

Hear ex­tracts from this record­ing and the rest of this month’s choices on the BBC Mu­sic Mag­a­zine web­site at www.clas­si­cal-mu­sic.com

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