COMPOSERS: Glass; Einaudi; Westhoff; Pärt; Fauré; Auerbach; Kats-Chernin; Jenkins; Bach etc
LABELS: Deutsche Grammophon
ALBUM TITLE: Spheres
PERFORMER: Daniel Hope (violin); Jacques Ammon (piano); Deutsche Kammerorchester Berlin; Berlin Radio Choir/Simon Halsey
CATALOGUE NO: 479 0571
I’ve always admired Daniel Hope for his determination to follow an unfashionable path. This album of 18 bite-sized pieces, in which Hope is joined by the Deutsches Kammerorchester Berlin and the Berlin Radio Choir, makes me think again. Hope writes in the liner notes, ‘My aim was to bring together composers… united by the age-old question: is there anything out there?’ But the question for any listener must be: is there anything in here?
Barely, is the answer. Two or three pieces deserve to be heard. Pärt’s Fratres emerges as the craggy masterwork it truly is, and the works by German Baroque composer Johann von Westhoff and Philip Glass are engaging. Everything else is feeble beyond belief. My star ratings salute Hope’s determination to wring every drop of expressivity from the music, however vacuous, and the glowing recorded sound. The music itself barely deserves one star. Hope tries to dignify it by invoking a connection with mankind’s dreams about the heavenly spheres in the CD notes. But it’s embarrassingly obvious that there’s no real connection. It’s depressing to see a once-proud label like DG releasing something so meretricious.