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RECORDINGS OF THE YEAR

August

The Quintet’s opening movement is a tautly driven span, by turns gritty, rapturously lyrical, sparkling and luscious

Malcolm Riley welcomes a impressive and moving disc of three chamber works by Jonathan Dove, with outstanding performances captured in gorgeous recorded sound

Dove In Damascusa. Out of Time. Piano Quintetb a Mark Padmore ten bCharles Owen pf Sacconi Quartet Signum F SIGCD487 (73’ • DDD • T)

Signum Classics’ advocacy of the music of Jonathan Dove continues apace with this superb new chamber/vocal release, recorded in the summer of 2016. It follows the live recording of There Was a Child, a passionate choral-orchestral cantata with the combined CBSO forces (Signum, 11/12), and For an Unknown Soldier with the London Mozart Players et al (Signum, 2/17), both discs displaying Dove’s innate ability to convey – with memorable eloquence – dramatic narratives, a skill honed through the composition of over two dozen operas.

Seldom does a mixed vocal and chamber programme such as this hang together so perfectly, each successive work tightening the ratchet of intensity towards a final, despairing and pertinently contemporary anguish. It helps that all of the performers are at the top of their communicative powers. The UK-based Sacconi Quartet make light work of Dove’s technical challenges, producing a tight and sweet unity of purpose, aided by a close recorded balance. Charles Owen has the happy knack of

Jonathan Dove’s music eloquently conveys dramatic narratives providing just enough pianistic support when the strings are to the fore and Mark Padmore brings his full emotional range to the disc’s largest work. We begin with the Piano Quintet (2009). This was a Spitalfields Festival commission to celebrate the 80th birthday of a festival patron, George Law. It makes a highly satisfying start to this landmark disc.

Composition started in 2008, during a muchneeded sabbatical sojourn, and was partially inspired by the rolling hills of Umbria. Cast in three accessible movements, the work’s energetic outer branches neatly enfold a slow movement of scintillating warmth and beauty. The opening Energetic is a tautly driven span, by turns gritty, rapturously lyrical, sparkling and luscious (think of the melting modulations

18 GRAMOPHONE RECORDINGS OF THE YEAR 2017

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