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<<  -- 3 --  Roderic Dunnett    Sublimely sensual

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Matthews's chamber music gifts -- his Ninth and Tenth String Quartets surfaced earlier this year -- tend to overshadow his huge orchestral achievement : two violin concertos, five symphonies, a clutch of symphonic poems and song cycles all bear witness to his fusing of lucid lyricism and glowing orchestral timbres with keen structures not without their debt to Tippett (on whom Matthews has written perceptively), Beethoven (to whose structures Tippett himself, as Matthews has recalled, looks back) and Britten (to whom he and his brother, Colin, were amanuenses). Other influences are rife upon the Matthews brothers, both of whose powers of assilimilation (including of what tends to be classed as 'Modernism') are legendary : Mahler is an obvious one (Matthews also absorbed his musicianly intelligence from, the late Deryck Cooke, whom he assisted at the time of his l960s completion of Mahler's l0th Symphony); but surely Berg and Frank Martin also -- listen to the terrifying slow unfolding of section 6 of Chaconne, its unfolding as dark as Shostakovich or Mahler 7 -- while the choral Vespers, a refreshing and unusually large undertaking in the field of large scale sacred choral music by one of Britain's leading composers, reveals even more tellingly the broad brush of his experience and imagination.

Cantiga; Chaconne; Vespers - Faber music scores by David Matthews

New works beckon : in autumn 2002 Steven Isserlis is to give the world première of Matthews's new largescale piece for cello and orchestra (his last was a chamber-scale Romanza composed for a private royal occasion) with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales; and a new Viola Concerto is scheduled for the 2002 Deal and Presteigne festivals. Matthews was till this year composer in residence to the Britten Sinfonia, and a refreshing one at that; indeed, he has recently provided his editing services to Sir Paul McCartney (his The Doorway of the Dawn was also one of the ten items on A Garland for Linda, recorded by the Joyful Company of Singers).

a Garland for Linda

 

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Copyright © 6 December 2001 Roderic Dunnett, Coventry, UK

 

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DAVID MATTHEWS AT FABER MUSIC

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