Arcadiana; The Four Quarters; Piano Quintet
DoelenKwartet Rotterdam; Dimitri Vassilakis (piano)
Cybele (hybrid CD/SACD) 261603
A Signum CD of these pieces with Thomas Adès on piano appeared in 2015, but this new version has much going for it. The transparency and exactness of its sound allows detail to come through with clarity and precision. Adès has a gift for creating textures, whether intricate, as in the opening movement of Arcadiana, with its pizzicatos, glissandos and harmonics; or more conventionally chordal and even Romantic – the ‘Nimrod’-based sixth movement, which refers to its source in a way that’s both overt yet oblique.
Not a note is wasted in the seven short vignettes of Arcadiana, nor in the single span of the Quintet, even where ghosts of music of the past surface, since those references are subtle and placed so that they are part of the piece’s musical progression. The players’ keen sense of timing, as well as technical assurance and range all help.
If a feeling for place lies behind Arcadiana, time is explored in The Four Quarters, where the rhythmic backbone of each of the four movements reminds me of the ticking of clocks, sometimes regular, sometimes fragmented, but always giving the music impetus. This is music firmly grounded in the past – tonality is never far away, and sometimes explicit – but with the ability to inhabit the present and look to the future.