WORKS: Canticles of the Sun and the Moon; Veni Sancte Spiritus
PERFORMER: Various artists
CATALOGUE NO: ECHCD 3 DDD
Many will sympathise with the commercial composer Anne Dudley’s disdain for much modern music (expressed in the course of an interview on a promotional CD). Her concern to ‘fully acknowledge her classical music roots’, of which this album is the first expression, is perhaps understandable too.
The trouble is that this attempt to ‘talk up’ her ambitions encourages greater expectations than her compositional talent seems able to bear. Or perhaps she just hasn’t bothered to stretch herself. Most of the 11 short tracks are simply arrangements of well-known tunes, including several Christmas carols and Bach chorales. If ‘The Holly and the Ivy meets John Adams’ and a minor-key version of ‘All Creatures of our God and King’ in soft-focus kitsch are to your taste, this disc is for you. A few pieces of Dudley’s own – a ‘Cambridge carol’-style hymn and an unsuccessful attempt to rewrite Barber’s Adagio – are also included.
All are subjected to expert arrangement and studio treatment: clever, occasionally imaginative, but desperately over-produced, cloyingly clichéd. The packaging, too, at least in my copy, emphasises gloss rather than content; the omission of any list of performers is an insult to their obvious hard work. Okay, perhaps, for post-prandial listening on a cold winter’s night. But, as for Dudley being the next Górecki (whose name, by the way, she can’t pronounce), forget it. Keith Potter