Adès – Tevot, Violin Concerto

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Ades
LABELS: EMI
WORKS: Tevot; Violin Concerto, Op. 24 (Concentric Paths); Three Studies from Couperin; Powder Her Face – Overture, Waltz & Finale
PERFORMER: Anthony Marwood (violin); Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra/Simon Rattle; Chamber Orchestra of Europe/Thomas Adès; National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain/Paul Daniel
CATALOGUE NO: EMI 457 8132

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Like everyone at the UK premiere of Tevot, given by the BPO and Simon Rattle, I was transfixed by the sheer power of the piece. Adès tells us that ‘Tevot’ is a Hebrew word meaning ark, but I kept imagining a more futuristic vessel; a colossal space-station wheeling around planets.

This CD of that performance, played with the requisite Hollywood-bowl grandeur and shimmer, confirms my impression that Tevot is the greatest sci-fi movie score ever written. It is colossal, coldly radiant like the stars, and utterly detached from human emotion. 

The Violin Concerto is a far more approachable piece (though listening to this CD revealed that some of it is near-quoted in Tevot). That sweet-toned, sensitive violinist Anthony Marwood reveals an unsuspected heroic streak, throwing off Adès’s tremendous vertiginous runs with immense authority.

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Adès’s suite from his early opera Powder Her Face is played with great verve and style by the National Youth Orchestra under Paul Daniel, though the performance is let down by the cavernous recorded sound. But the most engaging things on the CD are the masterly arrangements of three Couperin pieces, revealed in all their tender, dusky mystery by the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. Ivan Hewett