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<<  -- 2 --  Malcolm Miller    THE MUSIC OF JULIAN DAWES


The Cello Suite (1987 rev 2006) received its world première in an engaging performance by Peter Adams, cellist of the Bochmann String Quartet and Principal Cello of the English Symphony Orchestra. With its five contrasting movements and virtuoso demands, the work is certainly an intriguing and welcome addition to the solo cello repertoire. The first Prelude developed its main melismatic motif in a myriad of guises, enriched with drones. The second movement, Reflection, is reflective in both senses of the word, inwardly poetic while also structurally palindromic and inversional. The outer sections are infused with dissonant tritones and semitones, the central section inhabited by a more expansive, dreamy melody. The Scherzetto third movement is a skimpish dance, laced with registral contrasts, followed by a warmly flowing Lullaby, in which there are some ingenious modal elements in the arpeggio accompaniment to add expression to the broad melody above. The Suite concludes with an energetic neo-classical finale, propulsive ostinati and drone and drumming effects supporting the melodic line in two-part polyphony.

A particular highlight of the evening was the soprano Vivienne Bellos' intensely expressive account of Love, Life and Lyric, a cycle of three settings of poems by Marketa J Zvelebil, who was present in the audience. The work was composed for Vivienne Bellos on the occasion of her silver anniversary as Musical Director of the North Western Reform Synagogue, and was here projected with enthralling colour and resilience, with the composer at the piano. Julian Dawes's individual polytonal harmony and melismatic word painting was evident in the mercurial shifts in the first song 'Music', in which the two-part stanzas were resolved poignantly in the final section. It was entrancingly contrasted by the slow and poignant 'Turning Away', while the final song 'His Touch' explored the highest vocal range with silvery resonances and zestful buoyancy.

Particularly effective were Dawes's performances of his Two Pieces for Piano, adapted from works originally composed for television. Here Dawes' experience as a dramatic composer was evident in the focused ambience of each piece, the delicate 'Lament', with its ostinato sequences and a singing melody, and the more jazzily syncopated 'Nocturne', full of unusual, interesting modulations.

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Copyright © 6 May 2006 Malcolm Miller, London UK


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