Stephen Gardner: Hallalujah; Never . . . Never . . . Never . . ; Lament: RTÉ NSO/Gerhard Markson, Gavin Maloney

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Artist: Stephen Gardner, RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, Gerhard Markson, Gavin Maloney
Genre: Classical
Label: RTÉ lyric fm

If Stephen Gardner were a pundit, he'd be a Vincent Browne or an Eoghan Harris –direct, provocative, in your face, not afraid of big statements on big subjects. Never . . . Never . . . Never . . . (2003) draws together an Ian Paisley speech, Francis Bacon's Three Screaming Popes, and The Sash in a claustrophobic soundworld that also features a noise-fest of drumming. Lament (2009) written after the loss of a niece, is a slowly morphing wall of sound that grinds up to a painful tension before turning to calm. And Hallelujah (2008) is Gardner's rawly venting, throw- in-the-kitchen-sink response to the 2002 invasion of Iraq. Not a disc to sample late at night.