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WORKS: Ah Paaxo’ob; Uy U T’an; Can Silim Tun; Cotidales
PERFORMER: Ian Pace (piano); Arditti Quartet; Neue Vokalsolisten Stuttgart; Ensemble Modern/Stefan Asbury
Taking its inspiration from her native Mexico, but reflecting the fact that she trained and works in Britain, the music of Hilda Paredes beguiles while exploring the tensions between collective and individual expression. Her British mentors’ fingerprints, notably John Casken, but also Maxwell Davies and Rodney Bennett, can be detected in Paredes’s restless music, with a dash of Carter’s spirit. Her works are permeated by resonances of her homeland, but it is the ancient Mayan culture that holds sway rather than the Spanish-speaking mainstream.


The Arditti Quartet heads a formidable line-up, featuring in three of the four pieces in this marvellous survey of recent works. Uy U T’an (Listen How They Talk) takes the notion of string quartet as conversation as suggestive not of equality of role but diversity of intent, with four sharply delineated characters. In Cotidales Ian Pace joins the Ardittis, with quartet and piano sometimes coaxing sometimes jousting each other. The thrilling climax is like boxing on ice, with everyone slipping around whilst throwing punchy chords. In the old Mayan spells of Can Silim Tun, the string quartet is not so much supporting as living in uneasy co-existence with the four voices. Far from incanting, the latter charm through straightforward, though far from easy, singing. Ah Paaxo’ob is a kind of concerto for orchestra, the spotlight roving among the Ensemble Modern’s 20 musicians. Christopher Dingle