Dove: An Airmail Letter from Mozart

By Whitehouse, Richard | Gramophone, February 2017 | Go to article overview

Dove: An Airmail Letter from Mozart


Whitehouse, Richard, Gramophone


An Airmail Letter from Mozart (a).

For an Unknown Soldier (b)

(b) Nicky Spence ten (b) Portsmouth Grammar School Chamber Choir; (b) Oxford Bach Choir; "children's choirs of The Minster Junior School, Monks Orchard Primary School & Ecclesbourne Primary School; London Mozart Players/ (b) Nicholas Cleobury, (a) Melvyn Tan pt Signum (F) SIGCD452 (65' * DDD * T)

Jonathan Dove might be expected to come up with a pragmatic response in commemorating the First World War, and so it proves with For an Unknown Soldier. On one level, this 50-minute setting of wartime poems is demonstrably in a lineage of British choral works going back to Britten and beyond, though Dove's selection is a resourceful one; not least with the climactic sixth of these nine movements, in which Isaac Rosenberg's 'Dead man's dump'--surely the most visceral of any war poem--gets a charged and cumulative treatment whose sheer immediacy makes possible the final catharsis. Elsewhere, inclusion of Helen Dircks's poignant 'To you in France' or Marian Allen's ruminative 'The wind on the Downs' endow a female perspective which extends the emotional range without obscuring that 'anticipation to acknowledgement' trajectory confirmed by the Wilfred Owen poems framing the whole. …

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