David Gompper: Cello Concerto, etc

Timothy Gill (cello), Volkan Orhon (double bass); RPO/Emmanuel Siffert (Naxos)

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David Gompper
Cello Concerto; Double Bass Concerto; Moonburst
Timothy Gill (cello), Volkan Orhon (double bass); Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Emmanuel Siffert
Naxos 8.559855   60:19 mins


David Gompper (see Background To…, p75) is a composer-pianist rooted in traditional forms and practical music-making. This third album of orchestral works with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and conductor Emmanuel Siffert forms a kind of diptych with last year’s second: here we get Moonburst (2018, companion to the earlier Sunburst) alongside recent concertos for cello and double bass.

Gompper’s bold orchestral canvases are in an approachable transatlantic modernist style which explores binary opposites of line, timbre, tempo and so on. Each work utilises matrices derived from mathematics’ Farey sequence: a way of ordering fractions that has underpinned his structures and imagery for some time, which results here in music of expressive contrasts.

In the concertos, soloist is pitted against orchestra ‘in an attempt to world-build’ that yields highly listenable results, thanks also to the virtuoso commitment of Timothy Gill (cello) and Volkan Orhon (double bass). The Cello Concerto is conventional fare, exploring divergent material in two movements, volatile then reflective. But its sibling proves more intriguing as Gompper rises to the challenge of the double bass’s relative quietness: imagining three stages of a solar eclipse, corresponding sections highlight different kinds of sonic shadow.

Moonburst builds layers of night-suggestive material – including hidden homages to nocturnal works by Schoenberg and Debussy – into an eventual climax which is satisfyingly expansive. There are some lovely translucent textures here which could strike gold with a more subtly blended recorded sound.


Steph Power