<< -- 2 -- Malcolm Miller SUMMA SUMMARUM
'The Escape' has a breathless energy, exciting and chilling,
using the large percussion section to convey fear. Passages return in the
fifth movement, 'The Fall', with the artist Belloni crouching
on rooftops until shot down, portrayed in descending motifs that intensify
into a moving coda. In contrast to the opening is a beautifully sustained
second poem, 'Among the dead', with striking choral sonorities.
'The Plane Tree', the slow fourth movement, has the women depicting
the swaying 'shimmering green' of the trees whilst the men are
workmen making the trees into crosses. The pithy miniature, 'The Persecutor's
Report', is slightly ironic in its motoric momentum.
The penultimate movement, 'Night in the Cathedral', is the
longest, conveying with spectral semichorus and organ, the anguished hallucinations
of the escapee dying of his wounds. The final movement's flowing textures
depict the Rhine, and ends the work in elusive mood, the 'as if'
of the poem's imagery.
Henze has called this work 'an apotheosis of terror and grief ...
a summa summarum of my musical oeuvre, a settling of accounts'.
Certainly, like earlier works, it represents a process of reconciliation
with Germany, after Henze's symbolic and self-imposed exile. One might question
whether or not it represents a culmination of his oeuvre. Nevertheless the
rich complexity that underpins the evolution of ideas within a web of allusiveness,
lends a breadth and pungency to what is clearly one of Henze's most
symbolically personal yet universal statements.
Copyright © 7 September 2000
Malcolm Miller, London, UK
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