COMPOSERS: Adrian Williams
WORKS: Images of a Mind; Spring Requiem; Sonata for Solo Cello; Quatre cantilènes
PERFORMER: Raphael Wallfisch (cello)Adrian Williams (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: MET CD 1028
Adrian Williams (b1956) calls himself ‘your typical late English Romantic’, inspired by ‘open skies and upland places’. But although this gives some clue to the general tenor of his music, the pieces on this disc spring from other roots: a Serbian Orthodox funeral ceremony (Spring Requiem), a self-portrait by artist Sidney Nolan (Images of a Mind) and composers ranging from Bach and Britten (Sonata for Solo Cello) to Fauré and MacDowell (Quatre cantilènes).
This is music that soon grows on you, aided by repeated motifs and themes, and a tonal centre never too far away. ‘I want to communicate,’ says Williams in the booklet, and communicate he does.
Spring Requiem (1993) is the most programmatic of the works, opening with the clangour of bells in the piano, with snippets of Orthodox chant and a parody of a Slav folk melody audible. The expressionistic Images of a Mind portrays an unsettled, nervous personality through jagged intervals and fragmented passages.
In a few instances in the early solo sonata, Williams quotes directly from Bach’s cello suites. Like Britten, he uses the cello’s expressive palette to the full: slap pizzicato, stopped harmonics, scurrying sul ponticello – the works.
Williams’s cello music is fortunate to have such a convincing champion as Wallfisch, technically expert enough to meet its considerable demands, and able to adapt his tone to its myriad mood shifts. Janet Banks