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Classical Music Review

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Autumn Winds


Composer: Kirk O'Riordan
Performed by: Holly Roadfeldt (piano), Ann Moss (soprano) and Peter Dutilly (viola)
Label: Ravello Records
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 14 February 2020

Ravello Records gives us Autumn Winds, a collection of chamber music composed by Kirk O’Riordan. The music, which features pianist Holly Roadfeldt along with soprano Ann Moss and Peter Dutilly playing viola, is as challenging as it is alluring; O’Riordan takes listeners to the outskirts of tonality in order to elucidate questions of beauty, existence, and mortality...

The first piece, 'Four Beautiful Songs', explores competing notions of attraction. It is the only piece featuring all three performers. A brazen, dissonant cluster of tones from the piano opens the curtain on this provocative performance, with Moss’s soprano line sung above a frantic accompaniment. The piece juxtaposes the rush of infatuation with the bitterness of rejection.

'Prayer Stones' sees a significant shift in tone. The viola embarks on a series of short meditations over the piano. 'Autumn Winds 'comes next - a setting of 15 haikus by Japanese poet Matsuo Basho. Each movement, only minutes long, reflects upon the phrase “autumn winds,” each time reinterpreting its meaning.

The collection concludes with 'Beautiful Nightmares', a minimalistic take on the serialism of Schoenberg that portrays the transcendent surrealism of the dream world.

Kirk O'Riordan, it would seem, is a master of connecting traditional classical music forms with more modern, atonal work. There's much beauty to be had in pieces like 'Four Beautiful Songs - III. Even If' and 'Prayer Stones', which conjure up some incredibly emotive imagery.

It's the 'Autumn Winter' pieces that see the composer experiment a little more with the form and the instrumentation. When you lay these pieces together they make for a wonderfully rich and diverse sounding album.


Darren Rea

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