WORKS: Mass of the Apocalypse; Larkin’s Jazz; Five Early Pieces for Solo Piano; Five Forgeries for Piano Duet; Metamorphosis for Solo Flute etc
PERFORMER: Jo Maggs (soprano), Meriel Dickinson (mezzo-soprano), Duke Dobing (flute), Peter Dickinson, John Flinders (piano); St James’s Singers; The Nash Ensemble/Ivor Bolton
CATALOGUE NO: 8.572287
Apart from Mass of the Apocalypse, and Larkin’s Jazz (taped at the premiere back in 1990), all the pieces on this timely salute to Peter Dickinson at 75 are new recordings, (Dickinson himself sharing the piano music with John Flinders).
Yet the Larkin homage, and more particularly the Mass, remain the most substantial works, the latter announced by an all-too-predictable apocalyptic crash, but deftly contriving an imaginative interactive conjunction of Missa brevis (slightly reordered) and the Book of Revelation.
From the marimba-flecked Kyrie to the Nyman-esque motor rhythms of the Sanctus, fidgety percussion subverts the simplicity of the choral writing which gains the upper hand in a quirky, elfin-like Gloria. The ‘Ita Missa est’, meanwhile, sounds like up-tempo Messiaen.
Somehow the mix works (and intrigues), although the Rev. Donald Reeves’s narration suggests that, after the apocalypse, sherry will be served in the vestry, and when he essays ‘drama’, the memory of Iain Duncan Smith promising the Tory Conference that ‘the quiet man is turning up the volume’ rises unbidden.
The relationship of spoken words and music is also a bit of an issue in the Larkin, but Dickinson’s ear for jazz yields some fertile commentary, and if the Five Early Pieces are well-made rather than ear-catching, the Five Forgeries contain some affectionate quasi-pastiches affectionately played. Paul Riley