THOMAS ADÈS (b.1971): In Seven Days for Piano and Orchestra (Nicolas Hodges [piano], London Sinfonietta; Thomas Adès), Nancarrow Studies Nos. 6 & 7 (Thomas Adès, Rolf Hind [pianos]).
Catalogue Number: 01N085
Description: In Seven Days may be one of Adès' most accessible works to date, while relinquishing none of the impressive compositional virtuosity for which he has become known. It is an unusual work in that it is a true multimedia composition, in which the auditory and visual components carry equal weight as they counterpoint one another; either is strong enough to stand on its own as musical composition and video installation respectively, but the combination really is more than the sum of the two components. Addressing the Creation story, the work is built as a kind of fractal elaborative variation structure, in which small scalar cells, initially swirling like atoms in the void (in repeating patterns, lending the music a quasi-minimalist drive) coalesce into increasingly elaborate structures, like the growth of massive crystal formations. These form some very impressive sonic edifices indeed, with grinding granitic chordal blocks, like Bruckner in slow motion, illuminated by scintillating crystalline decoration in virtuosic Busonian figuration from the piano. The work is very tonal, a grand visionary Romantic landscape, to which Tal Rosner's energetic, abstract visuals add a striking dimension. Based on computer-manipulated video images from the environs of the commissioning concert halls, the video appears on a grid of six rectangular screens, sometimes showing different or interacting complementary images, sometimes combining in one large composite image - for instance, the thrilling visual climax of the appearance of the Sun. The Nancarrow arrangements ingeniously adapt the appealingly tonal patterning of his player-piano studies - No.7 propelled by an appealing extended elaboration of an habanera-like ostinato - for live pianists. CD & DVD.