Illuminations Dances and Poems

Illuminations, Dances & Poems (CR039)

Review by American Record Guide

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A program of recent works, performed by the Illumina Duo: trumpeter Ellie Lovegrove and organist Richard Moore. The opener, Dan Locklair’s nine-minute Phoenix Processional (1998), is stately and dignified. The closer, Locklair’s four-movement, 16-minute Trumpets of Light (2011) has biblical inspirations for each movement. All of Locklair’s music is tuneful, tonal, easy on the ears. It is a little amusing to read that these English musicians hear in his music “an innate sense of the American with its almost-too-big-ness”. None of it sounds even close to big to me—I hear mostly restraint until some moderate endings.
Torbjorn Hultmark’ s three-movement, 20-minute Triptyk (1979) is much bigger than Locklair’s works. Based on Psalm 143, the dramatic, drawn-out piece speaks an abstract harmonic language. In a similar vein is Solfa Carlile’s five-minute ‘Silver Tree Fanfare’ (2016). Paul Burke’s Five Poems, commissioned by Illumina Duo in 2014, seems much bigger to me than Locklair’s works. ‘Sick Autumn’, based on the Guillaume Apollinaire poem, is by turns melancholy and agitated. ‘Dance in the Sepulchre’ (William Henry Hudson’s poem) is for solo organ and becomes theatrical near the end. Much of ‘The lighted city is dark’ (Charles Causley) has the muted trumpet sounding distant. ‘Anyone lived in a pretty how town’ (EE Cummings) is a whimsical, quasi-improvised organ solo. ‘50cc’ (Ryan Whatley) is a lively depiction of a motorcycle ride.

Trumpeter Lovegrave has a big and stable sound that never becomes strident. Fine playing by organist Moore, and good recorded balance between the two. For some almost-too-big-ness, read these flowery and effusive notes. Notes also include complete specifications for the organ of St Thomas Cathedral in Portsmouth, England.

Barry Kilpatrick, American Record Guide, 9th August 2018

Further information

American Record Guide

American Record Guide

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