Gramophone Magazine Editor's Choice

March 2002

Editor's Choice

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Birtwistle: Pulse Shadows

Birtwistle: Pulse Shadows

“From Schoenberg's Pierrot lunaire to Boulez's Le marteau sans maître and Kurtág's Messages of the late RV Troussova, modernist composers have used the medium of voice with mixed instrumental ensemble for their most allusive and personal utterances. Birtwistle's Pulse Shadows (1991-6) belongs in this company. While not easy listening, it deals with some of the most elemental and profound topics in contemporary culture, and this recording rises to the score's many challenges, both technically and interpretatively.
Pulse Shadows is subtitled 'Meditations on Paul Celan', acknowledging the poet-author of the texts for the nine vocal movements, and indicating that the nine movements for string quartet with which the vocal movements are interleaved reflect on – shadow – the emotions that setting Celan (mainly in Michael Hamburger's English translations) created in the composer. The poems are oblique rituals, meditations on the state of human consciousness after the Holocaust, and Birtwistle's music links that quality with the kind of innately melancholic, stoical, intensely humane spirit that informs most of his finest works. Claron McFadden proves herself the most mellifluous singer of this music.
Together with the precision and empathy of the Arditti Quartet and Reinbert de Leeuw, not to mention the admirable recorded sound, this is a disc to live with, and be haunted by, for years to come.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

GGramophone Awards 2002

Winner - Contemporary

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - March 2002

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GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - March 2002

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