Ades Tevot; Violin Concerto

A compendium of Adès’s recent works for various ensembles, well performed

Author: 
Richard_Whitehouse

Ades Tevot; Violin Concerto

  • Tevot
  • Concerto for Violin and Orchestra
  • (3) Studies after Couperin, Les Amusemens
  • (3) Studies after Couperin, Les Tours de passe-passe
  • (3) Studies after Couperin, L'Âmien-peine
  • Powder Her Face, (3) Dances, Overture
  • Powder Her Face, (3) Dances, Waltz
  • Powder Her Face, (3) Dances, Finale

EMI’s commitment to Thomas Adès continues with this miscellany of recent works. Its Hebrew title referring to structures of security in time of flux, Tevot is an eventful 22 minutes. From a shimmering opening that erupts in energetic exchanges, it builds a momentum underpinned by the antagonism between tuned anvils and an oboe-led chorale. Reaching an expressive plateau, the piece recalls its start via a descent that gives the stratospheric violin-writing a definite harmonic context, before the climactic final section attempts more overt tonal closure. The extent to which this ingenious take on post-minimalist facets enriches Adès’s idiom is open to question but the BPO is responsive to its technical challenges, though more densely scored passages are not helped by the “dead” ambience.

The Violin Concerto was previously a download-only release. Written for Anthony Marwood, the capricious outer movements enclose a central chaconne whose lyrically intense solo writing contrasts with the orchestra’s volatile textures. Marwood is eloquence itself and Adès secures disciplined playing from a COE that is equally inside the understated yet characterful Three Studies after Couperin. Finally, the NYO gives its all in a suite from Adès’s first opera Powder Her Face: an Overture that luridly hints at events to come, a Waltz where the Duchess’s “arrival” and the Waitress’s yearning are tellingly fused, then a Finale relating the Duchess’s downfall via a tango of grim humour. A fine calling-card for this rare masterpiece among recent English opera, it rounds off a highly thought-provoking disc.

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