Magazine article Gramophone

Merseyside Ensembles Record Local Composer

Magazine article Gramophone

Merseyside Ensembles Record Local Composer

Article excerpt

Hesketh

A Rhyme for the Season (a). Ein Lichtspiel (after Moholy-Nagy) (b). Graven Image (a).

Wunderkammer(konzert) (b).

At God speeded summer's end (a)

(b) Ensemble 10/10/Clark Rundell; (a) Royal Liverpool

Philharmonic Orchestra/Christoph-Mathias Mueller

NMC (F) NMCD186 (65' * DDD)

Titling this disc 'Wunderkammer(konzert)', with a Joseph Cornell collection of miniature found objects as cover image, flags up Kenneth Hesketh's propensity for setting off clearly delineated, well-contrasted shapes against each other. It also underlines the basic difference between music's inevitable abstractions and what the visual arts can offer. Composers need to give memorable identities to their chosen materials or run the risk of blandness; and although Hesketh (b1968) might not always manage the haunting uncanniness found in British contemporaries such as Oliver Knussen, George Benjamin or Thomas Ades, he rarely lapses into mere exoticism.

The earliest work, At God speeded summer's end, with its title quoting Dylan Thomas, comes closest to such exoticism, and there are times in Wunderkammer(konzert) itself when decorative flamboyance or rhapsodic rumination threaten to derail the musical machine. Hesketh makes many references to mechanisms in his booklet-notes but at its best his music offsets such devices by evoking the mystery of more natural phenomena. In Ein Lichtspiel (after Moholy-Nagy), the 'play of light' flickers and flares through a well-proportioned sequence of pungently orchestrated sound-images: here, as throughout, performance and recording are first-rate. …

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