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Jack Gallagher's The Persistence of Memory (In Memoriam Brian Israel) is a longish piece with a concertante cello part, excellently played by Bogdana Peneva. In structure, the piece uses the five stages (Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance) described in Elizabeth Kubler-Ross's seminal book, On Death and Dying. Each stage corresponds to a section in the work, with a final section consisting of an abbreviated version of the opening material. This is an attractive work, with its use of ostinato, fine orchestration and an extensive percussion part. To my English ears it sounded rather Copland-esque [listen -- track 1, 1:18-2:25]. But given its length, I never felt that Gallagher explored his theme in sufficient depth.

Werner Pelinka's Diagonal is rather an effective piece for strings with a concertante violin part. Based on a line from Goethe's Faust, 'Das EsigWeibliche zeiht uns hinan' ('The Eternal Woman draws us on') the piece contrasts a masculine Allegro energico opening movement [listen -- track 2, 0:01-0:59] with the more feminine Sostenuto final movement. The two movements are separated by the diagonal of the title where a series of pedal points rise from the lowest to the highest notes. The composer's own programme note leaves it to our own imagination to consider how the diagonal might link or divide the two parts.

Lagu Lagu Manis II by Betty Beath is the result of journeys to Java and Bali. The music is based on Javanese and Balinese musics, recollected in the quiet of the composer's study. An attractively melodic piece, this translation of the exotic into conventional western music lacks the distinctiveness, vigour and dynamism of other essays in this genre such as the gamelan sections in Britten's The Prince of the Pagodas [listen -- track 3, 0:07-1:33].

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Copyright © 21 March 2004 Robert Hugill, London UK


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