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Peter Maxwell Davies: Linguae Igni; Vesalii Icones; Fantasia on a Ground and Two Pavans

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Eddins
This Naxos release features two works by Peter Maxwell Davies for solo cello and ensemble, "Vesalii Icones" from 1969 and "Lingua Ignis" from 2002. The first was written for the London-based Pierrot Ensemble later renamed the Fires of London that Maxwell Davies co-directed with Harrison Birtwistle during what was probably the most iconoclastic period of his generally iconoclastic career. Similar in musical style to "Eight Songs for a Mad King," written the same year, "Vesalii Icones" uses a full bag of modernist techniques heavily sprinkled with interjections of Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque music, as well as enough popular modern dances like the foxtrot to keep the...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Eddins
This Naxos release features two works by Peter Maxwell Davies for solo cello and ensemble, "Vesalii Icones" from 1969 and "Lingua Ignis" from 2002. The first was written for the London-based Pierrot Ensemble later renamed the Fires of London that Maxwell Davies co-directed with Harrison Birtwistle during what was probably the most iconoclastic period of his generally iconoclastic career. Similar in musical style to "Eight Songs for a Mad King," written the same year, "Vesalii Icones" uses a full bag of modernist techniques heavily sprinkled with interjections of Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque music, as well as enough popular modern dances like the foxtrot to keep the listener constantly off guard. The work is a theater piece and includes a dancer and projections of images of anatomical drawings by Vesalius. The composer insists that the work is not intended to be sacrilegious, but it is structured around the 14 Stations of the Cross, and it's difficult not to hear the startling musical contradictions of the liturgical meanings as ironic. The piece may not have the same shock value as it did at the time of its premiere, but it's a fascinating example of using baffling musical disjunctions to create a potent dramatic experience. "Fantasia on a Ground and Two Pavans, realization for instrumental ensemble" after Henry Purcell was written a year earlier and uses similar musical languages to similar effect. The Ground is easily recognizable as Purcell, but kept slightly off kilter with decorations of "wrong notes." The pavans, though, have a comic out-of-tune dance hall quality that pretty much obscures the Purcell. Maxwell Davies dedicated "Linguae Ignis Tongues of Fire" to the performers who play it here, cellist Vittorio Ceccanti and conductor Mauro Ceccanti. Here, too, he draws on music of the past, in this case plainchant, but it is thoroughly integrated into the fabric of the music. It's a shapely and lovely piece, mostly contemplative in mood. Vittorio plays with warmth and sensitivity, and tends to downplay the contrasts of "Vesalii Icones," but Mauro, leading Contempoartensemble, doesn't shy away from letting Maxwell Davies' zany stylistic leaps and overlaps make the maximum impact. Naxos' sound is clean, vivid, and well-balanced.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 8/30/2011
  • Label: Naxos
  • UPC: 747313271276
  • Catalog Number: 8572712
  • Sales rank: 342,298

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Vittorio Ceccanti Primary Artist
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