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SOUNDS OF AMERICA

The Brooklyn-based Knights, who offer a wide-ranging programme on their new disc for Warner Classics (review on page V)

the driving momentum of the latter’s faster, more incisive tempo in the first movement of the Sonata. What is more, Frey includes the Four Anniversaries (1948), Five Anniversaries (1964) and Touches (1980) omitted here: might Dossin plan them for a future release? Jed Distler

Haydn  Seven Last Words of Christ on the Cross (arr Yee/Attacca Quartet) Attacca Quartet  Azica F ACD71299 (63’ • DDD)

Sixty-eight numbered Haydn string quartets evidently weren’t enough for the adventurous and curious musicians of the Attacca Quartet. They added a 69th to their repertoire when they devised a new arrangement of the composer’s Seven Last Words of Christ on the Cross, one of his most unusual (and flexible) scores. Haydn originally wrote the work for orchestra and later revised it for string quartet and then as an oratorio. He also sanctioned a version for solo piano.

This incarnation, by Attacca cellist Andrew Yee with input from his colleagues,

is based on the oratorio, with subtle changes to clarify textures and heighten thematic elements. Chorales precede six of the seven sonatas that make up the main body of the work, and Lee has made a transcription of the second introduction, originally for wind ensemble. Most of the hour-long score is meditative and grave, in the most affecting Haydn tradition, though there are moments – as in Sonata V – that juxtapose graciousness with dramatic ferocity. And then comes the brief final movement, a Haydn force of nature, literally: the music depicts an earthquake.

The Attacca Quartet explore the work’s range of expressive moods with utmost sensitivity to nuance and interplay. The music challenges the players to shape long lines, emphasise contrasting material and occasionally stop to take a big breath. They triumph in every respect, and are captured in such vivid sound that no telling Haydn detail is allowed to go unheard. Donald Rosenberg

Paine  ‘Orchestral Works, Vol 2’ Symphony No 2, ‘In the Spring’, Op 34. Oedipus Tyrannus, Op 35 – Prelude. Poseidon and Amphitrite, Op 44 Ulster Orchestra / JoAnn Falletta  Naxos American Classics B 8 559748 (68’ • DDD)

The second volume in the Ulster Orchestra’s series devoted to orchestral music by

John Knowles Paine with conductor JoAnn Falletta introduces three works that deserve more than the occasional dusting. The Symphony No 2, Prelude to Oedipus Tyrannus and Poseidon and Amphitrite show how skilfully Paine (1839-1906) absorbed the lessons of celebrated Romantic composers and went on to create scores of fresh appeal.

The spirit of Schumann hovers over the Symphony No 2 in A, and not only because it bears the subtitle In the Spring. The music is reminiscent of the German composer’s Spring Symphony in its effulgent lyricism, rollicking humour and harmonic palette. But the writing is so lustrous and Paine ties everything together with such seamless mastery that you can’t help but be charmed. The slow movement is a thing of tender beauty and fervent drama, with lovely solos for horn and oboe.

Paine taught a generation of American composers at Harvard; and while his own music – at least as presented here – hardly sounds ‘American’, it must have provided inspiration for his students. Certainly gramophone.co.uk

GRAMOPHONE JULY 2015 III