Music and Vision homepage Jenna Orkin: Writer Wannabe Seeks Brush With Death - From the heights of greatness (the Juilliard School; musicians Rosalyn Tureck and Nadia Boulanger) via way-ward paths to the depths of wickedness these reminiscences will entertain and enlighten.


<<  -- 2 --  Patric Standford    Happy and profound


The Sinfonia De Profundis, first heard in 1969, is not only his outstanding achievement, but one of the major landmarks in Irish music of the latter part of the 20th century. It is a deeply personal work, a thanksgiving for deliverance from a depression and despair that was frequently just beneath the surface of an otherwise colourful and witty musical personality.

The first of its five movements has a meditative atmosphere, and presents its attractive serial melodic motif alongside the old tune Remember God's goodness, both being fertile structural materials upon which all the movements are built [listen -- track 5, 0:44-1:43]. In the second movement, it becomes a yearning waltz, gentle and delicate, winding upwards like a plume of smoke into a grey sky [listen -- track 6, 1:21-2:12]. After a richly devout and profound central Adagio, a rather barbed Vivace sends the strings dancing over an Irish landscape that seems beset by demons, a disturbing dream fantasy [listen -- track 8, 2:34-3:14]. The final Epilogue draws the symphony back to its opening movement, though this time the great hymn tune breaks through with triumphant strength [listen -- track 9, 3:05-4:04].

The National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, conducted by Robert Houlihan, have brought this fine work to life with a strong performance and thereby done it a great service, for it deserves to be widely heard.

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Copyright © 6 February 2002 Patric Standford, West Yorkshire, UK







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