The music of David Gaines -
'... bright and clear ...'
Whilst it might be expected that the thirty-four-minute Symphony of David
Gaines would be a more commanding experience than his Euphonium Concerto,
it is the reverse that seems to be the case. The altogether cohesive challenge
of a symphony, demanding, as it should, an economy of musical material and
an alert ingenuousness applied to its manipulation and development, is missing
in a work that has an array of colourful ideas and some very imaginative
orchestration. Its subject is Esperanto, the oldest of the little
group of artificial international languages, invented in 1887 by a Polish
physician, Ludwig Zamenhof who gave it his hopeful pen-name.
Each of the four movements has an Esperanto text, on this CD sung by
the American mezzo Kymball Wheeler. The first is taken from Zamenhof's 1910
speech to the Sixth World Conference in Washington; the following two are
respectively poems by Marjorie Boulton and Penka Papazova; and the final
movement is set to one of the composer's own poems. The intention is splendid,
but the whole work seems so overloaded with its ideals that it finds difficulty
in actually taking off at any point. This is most evident in the second
movement, described as having 'a sense of animation and urgency' which feels
more like merrymaking under duress.
It is perhaps the third movement, which acknowledges a debt to Gorecki
of the Symphony of Sorrowful Songs, that is, in its haunting atmosphere,
the most successful part of the work. Here the large orchestra and its extensive
percussion outlay is used judiciously to produce an eerie subdued support
for 'The heart hears what the cosmos has to say . . .' [listen
-- track 6, 8:28-9:25].
Copyright © 1 January 2003
Patric Standford, West Yorkshire, UK