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McCabe's Maze Dances and Star Preludes -- in important respects they are sonatas in all but name -- are equally finely crafted but more idiosyncratic in their structures and more expressionist in their surfaces. There is a sense of space and freedom in this music that reaches towards the improvisatory. The outer-space of the Star Preludes becomes the metaphor for the inner-space of the composer's imagination. It is not, however, self-indulgent and self-serving: this music communicates with and involves the listener in its own soundscapes, and generates its own map at the same time as it evokes particular features.

As solo player/guide through the Maze Dances [listen -- track 1, 2:19-3:12] Skærved is dazzlingly good, as is his partnership (respectively, with Tamami Honma, piano, and Christine Sohn, violin) in the Rawsthorne chamber pieces. He plays on a Stradivarius of 1646 -- whose flame, I take it, is reproduced on the sleeve cover -- but this music (and his playing) fits the venerable instrument like a glove. Therein must lie a lesson about the nature of music itself -- or the best of it at any rate.

Copyright © 17 March 2002 Peter Dale, Danbury, Essex, UK

 

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