- cello and piano
Co-commissioned by the Aldeburgh Festival, Wigmore Hall and Carnegie Hall
- First Performance
- 21.6.2009, Aldeburgh Festival, Snape Maltings Concert Hall, Snape, UK: Steven Isserlis/Thomas Adès
Score and part 0-571-51982-2 on sale
- Programme Notes
The ‘rediscovered places’ of Thomas Adès’s new work for cello and piano contrast the world of nature - water, mountains, fields - with a hectic cityscape. ‘Les eaux’ flow through varying degrees of turbulence: ‘La montagne’ suggests a strenuous ascent to rarefield heights: ‘Les champs’ embodies a serene evenness evocative of an expansive open space: and ‘La ville’ is a virtuosic ‘cancan macabre’, abrasively recreating a transgressive night-life that is dark and down to earth.
That all four movements involve rediscovery could indicate connections with the composer’s earlier evocation of French painters and composers - especially Couperin. But there is also a sense of renewing acquaintance with contemporary techniques, as set out in the flowing pattern-making at the start of ‘Les eaux’, from which a complex counterpoint with intense cross-rhythms emerges that reinforces the inseparability of dramatic and lyrical in Adès’s style. Such imitative interaction between cello and piano is less impressionistically deployed in ‘La montagne’, and although the stressful exhilaration of this climb is cut short by an eerie depiction of an almost airless summit, the piece ends with a brusque fall to earth. By contrast, the gradual disappearance of ‘Les Champs’ into the highest registers of both instruments, without a sudden cadential cut-off, hints at the allusive, troubled idylls of Adès’s earlier evocations of Arcadiana (Arcadiana for string quartet): and ‘La ville’ sits well alongside the manic dance routines of Arcadiana’s ‘tango mortale’.
Arnold Whittall © 2009