T. Adès, Tevot / Concentric Paths (inter alia), Various Ensembles
(released on March 23, 2010)
EMI 4 57813 2 | 66'43"
Last year Hannu Lintu led a performance of the Overture, Waltz, and Finale from Powder Her Face with the National Symphony Orchestra, an augmented version of those three parts of the composer's first opera, on the scandalous life of the Duchess of Argyll. The performance on this disc, by the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, is the least polished of the three ensembles featured here, but something about the slightly slipshod exuberance of the performance suits the boozy humor of these fizzy, jazz-filled episodes. The main work on the disc, a single-movement tone poem called Tevot, reached my ears for the first time in this gargantuan performance by the Berlin Philharmonic under Simon Rattle. The title is taken from the Hebrew word for 'ark,' and Adès has said that the image that he had in mind was of the earth floating through space as an ark for humankind. As such it is a sort of post-Straussian exploration of the massiveness of space, with the orchestra deployed to circumscribe something infinite. Hints of Britten's sea interludes in Peter Grimes are heard here and there, but much of the language, especially exploiting treble and bass extremes, is now easily thought of as pure Adès. It is a grand, calamitous noise.