DAVID MATTHEWS (b.1943): Symphony No. 7, Op. 109, Vespers for Mezzo-Soprano, Tenor, Chorus and Orchestra, Op. 66.
Catalogue Number: 02P010
Label: Dutton Epoch
Reference: CDLX 7305
Description: The symphony (2009-09) is a concentrated single span incorporating four distinct sections, based on the continuous development of thematic material presented at the start. For its premiere it was coupled with Mahler's Seventh, from which Matthews borrows the distinctively-toned tenor horn, and some very Mahlerian gestures pay tribute to Matthews' long association with Mahler's music. However, the seventh symphony from which it draws its most obvious inspiration is Sibelius', in both the details of some characteristic phrase-shaping and melodic contour and in its concise, effortless flow of ideas one into the next. A certain indefinable 'Englishness' is most closely comparable to Tippett, insofar as Matthews sounds like anyone other than himself. The work presents a compelling journey, with many incidental thrills and episodes of great emotional power along the way. Vespers (1993-96) is an immensely impressive large-scale work in seven sections (46 min.), interspersing texts from the Latin liturgy with English translations of three Rilke poems. It has its devotional, meditative episodes, to be sure, but the overall impression is of the same kind of powerfully argued drama that characterises Matthews' symphonies, a feeling reinforced by the extensive role played by the large orchestra. Texts included. Katie Bray (mezzo), Matthew Long (tenor), The Bach Choir, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra; David Hill, John Carewe (Symphony).