Reviews: Kitt, Medjimorec – Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin
Schumann – Märchenbilder. Anthony Payne – Out of the
Depths Comes Song. Prokofiev – Sonata Op 119.
English composer Anthony Payne (born 1936) enjoys the mixed blessing of attaining his greatest public attention through someone else’s music. In 1998 his elaboration on Elgar’s deathbed sketches for a third symphony was a major popular success, with Payne earning a degree of exposure that would have been hard to predict on the basis of his previous work.
Foremost among the impressive features of his Elgar completion were his mastery of large orchestral forces and his ability to sustain the continuous presence of Elgar’s voice. So it was interesting to hear Out of the Depths Comes Song , a 10-minute piece for cello and piano which is Payne writing in his own voice. It was the world premiere.
The dedicatee – Austrian cellist Florian Kitt – explained in a brief introduction that the piece has a rather romantic, impressionist surface which belies the complex string textures the cellist must work through. The structure is in mirror form, possibly involving retrograde lines (if I understood correctly) and certainly seeing the “song”, having risen from “out of the depths”, going back to them at the end.
Kitt, who has a special interest in contemporary music, brought to the Payne piece an element of animation and intensity that had been missing in his earlier quite bland account of Schumann’s child-inspired Märchenbilder . Also contributing to a shortage of expressivity in the Schumann was pianist Rita Medjimorec whose velvet touch was simply too universally applied.
Velvet was perhaps also the wrong approach for the Prokofiev Sonata, which seemed to me to be missing the bite that is part of its make-up. And although the duo’s best moments were in this piece – including some nice lyrical touches – it mostly felt as though there was a much better piece trapped inside, raring to get out. MICHAEL DUNGAN