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<<  -- 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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