Heath: The Sapphire; Sirocco; The Celtic; Home from the Storm; Requiem; The Beloved; Lochalsh

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Heath
LABELS: Black Box
WORKS: The Sapphire; Sirocco; The Celtic; Home from the Storm; Requiem; The Beloved; Lochalsh
PERFORMER: Ittai Shapira (violin), Rusen Gunes, John Anderson, David Thomas (oboe), William Bennett (flute), Angela Tunstall (soprano), Jonathan Rendell (treble), Simon Nieminski (organ); English CO/David Heath, St Mary’s Cathedral Choir, Edinburgh/Matthew Owens
CATALOGUE NO: BBM 1083
Dave Heath really is the best kind of iconoclast in that he never fails, in compositional terms, to put his money where his mouth is. For an example of his views, visit his website (www.daveheath.co.uk) for his heartfelt diatribe against the heritage of the 12-note system. So are his alternatives plausible? In the main, yes and he is very well-equipped to follow his ideas through (so, incidentally, was Cardew, but it didn’t work out). On this CD, for instance, he takes a Celtic melody and cranks it up so that its structure takes on an entirely new life, its elements spinning like the mechanism of a supernatural clock; he deploys orchestral strings in apparently simple figures which strike a fine balance between continuation, development and resolution, and, almost in passing, writes with uncanny lucidity for his soloists, who, along with the ECO under the composer, offer heartfelt and vigorous performances in return.

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A very worthy successor, then, to his Evelyn Glennie collaboration African Sunrise/Manhattan Rave (reviewed January 2001), and a further triumph for Black Box, which has an enviable handle on the musical spirit of the times. Roger Thomas