JAMES MCCARTHY (b.1979): Codebreaker for Soprano, Chorus and Orchestra, WILL TODD (b.1970): Ode to a Nightingale (Choral Symphony No. 4) for Chorus and Orchestra.
Catalogue Number: 11T069
Description: Codebreaker is a powerful and deeply moving tribute to Alan Turing, the genius whose pioneering work in computing saved countless lives during WWII but who was abominably treated by the British government on account of his homosexuality, ultimately leading to his suicide. McCarthy's idiom is tonal and remarkably direct in its emotional power. The work is almost operatic, and one could easily imagine it as a semi-staged visual presentation, so vividly projected is its depiction of key episodes from Turing's life. The work sets poems by Wilfred Owen, Oscar Wilde (adapted and condensed from De profundis), Robert Burns and, especially, Sara Teasdale, in Romantically charged reflections on Turing's emotional life, his work during the war, and his final freedom, perhaps into a better world, along with extracts from his mother's biography of him. The music is often driven by post-minimalist propulsiveness, relentless and thrilling in the mechanisms of war; and even in the lyrical, poetic movements there is a degree of rhythmic insistence alongside a deep vein of melodic melancholy. Todd confesses to a certain degree of intimidation when commissioned to set one of the greatest and most beloved English poems, but in the event he did it proud. Taking his cue from the big Romantic themes - beauty, fantasy and above all, mortality - explored in Keats' poem, this large single-span work breathes on an epic, symphonic scale; a true symphony with chorus. Unlike Meredith's lark, a lovely, optimistic pastoral image, Keats' nightingale is the inspiration for profound meditation on the mysteries of life and death, and Todd's setting appropriately surges with epic grandeur. 2 CDs. Texts included. Julia Doyle (soprano), Herfordshire Chorus, BBC Concert Orchestra; David Temple.