Magazine article Gramophone

O'Connell: Four Orchestral Pieces

Magazine article Gramophone

O'Connell: Four Orchestral Pieces

Article excerpt


Four Orchestral Pieces. North. Symphony

RTF National Symphony Orchestra / Gavin Maloney

RTF Lyric FM [F] CD144 (78' * DDD)

Kevin O'Connell (b1958) is a Northern Irish composer, resident since 1997 in Dublin. The three orchestral works gathered here date from after his arrival in the Republic, though the first, North (1997-98), was commissioned by BBC Radio 3. An orchestral diptych, its title relates to Seamus Heaney's fourth volume of poems (1975; the first Heaney published after also moving from Ulster to Dublin). O'Connell rejects any programmatic origin but there is disguised reference to Sibelius's Fourth Symphony at the opening span's outset. The work proceeds in a most un-Sibelian manner, the succeeding scherzo-like finale evolving Schoenbergian, even Webernian textures rather (listen from 3'00").

North does not close so much as fizzle out. The Four Orchestral Pieces (2003-06) are not dissimilar in this regard; musical events occur but their developments--sometimes violent, as there is a jagged, rough-hewn side to O'Connell's melodies and orchestration--are too static and unconvincing. …

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