Ruders: Fairytale; Piano Sonata No. 2; De profundis; Concerto in Pieces

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LABELS: Bridge
WORKS: Fairytale; Piano Sonata No. 2; De profundis; Concerto in Pieces
PERFORMER: Thomas Adès (piano), David Colson (percussion); Quattro Mani, Orkester Norden/Stefan Solyom, BBC SO/ Andrew Davis
Fairytale gets this CD off to a thrilling start: it’s a ferocious onslaught based on Hans Christian Andersen’s Story of the Wind. Whirling strings and wind, punctuated by insistent percussion, keep up the pressure for almost the whole of the ten-minute piece, and the student Orkester Norden, recorded live in concert, has as much clarity and virtuosity as you could wish for – as does Thomas Adès in the Second Sonata from the 2001 Aldeburgh Festival, with a few distracting audience noises. This is a big performance of a big piece, with the patterns of bell-ringing insistent in the texture, particularly in the first movement – another example of Ruders maintaining tension and momentum over a long span. The uneasy quiet of the Sarabande and the jazzy, almost Tippett-like third movement lead straight into the tolling processional chords of the finale. De profundis starts where the Sonata leaves off, with slow chords in the bass of the two pianos increasing in tempo as the pitches rise to the top of the keyboards. In Concerto in Pieces – a set of Purcell variations paying tribute to Britten’s Young Person’s Guide – Ruders turns his kaleidoscopic orchestral technique to more entertaining ends. Another must-have disc in Bridge’s ongoing Ruders series. Martin Cotton