Music for My Love: Kodály Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Paul Mann

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3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Dean,Elcock,Ford,Holloway,Kerem,Lord,Pickard,Ruders,Söderlind
LABELS: Toccata Classics
ALBUM TITLE: Music for My Love
WORKS: Vol. 1: works by Söderlind, Kerem, Pickard, Elcock, Ruders, Ford, Dean, Holloway, Lord (arr. Mann), Brahms (arr. Söderlind), Casulana (arr. C Matthews)
PERFORMER: Kodály Philharmonic Orchestra/ Paul Mann
CATALOGUE NO: TOCC 0333

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Music written in memory of a loved one is scarcely unknown, but it’s extraordinary to find a collection of pieces large enough to potentially fill ten CDs. The ‘love’ of the title is Yodit Tekle, for seven years the partner of Toccata Classics’ founder Martin Anderson. Initially he invited composer friends to write music to bring comfort in her last illness. Two years after her death he’s amassed over 100 pieces, all written for that most consoling of ensembles, the string orchestra.

Consolation might be hard to find in the scrapings of Brett Dean’s Angels’ Wings. But most pieces here speak powerfully enough to justify the back cover’s claim that the project ‘transforms love into something you can hear’. Some stretch far beyond their shortish span, like the rotating harmonies of Mihkel Kerem’s A Farewell to Yodit, while Poul Ruders’s touching Lullaby for Yodit finds beauty in brevity.

John Pickard’s resplendently scored …forbidding mourning… attains a bitter-sweet throb that tells us he’s not an Elgar specialist for nothing. The full force of the Kodály Philharmonic strings also sweeps through Ragnar Söderlind’s powerful Brahms transcription Von ewiger Liebe (though his own work, a 15-minute variation set, disappoints). And don’t forget Steve Elcock’s Song for Yodit – the first piece to be written, but with its yearning central melody one of the most eloquent. You won’t find icy perfection in these performances  – here’s gusto, generosity, and lots of heart: perfect for music for anyone’s love.

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Geoff Brown