Composer, clarinetist, and pianist Paolo Marchettini releases his debut recording of works for orchestra that are characteristic of his lush, lyrical style. Born in Rome and currently living in New York City, Marchettini draws inspiration from Verdi, Frescobaldi, Morricone, and sets texts by Emily Dickinson in this collection of recorded performances by the Orchestra della Toscana, the Orchestra Roma Sinfonietta, and the Manhattan School of Music Chamber Orchestra.
|Orchestra della Toscana, Francesco Lanzillotta, conductor||15:22|
The Months have ends
|Alda Caiello, soprano, Orchestra della Toscana, Carlo Rizzari, conductor|
|02||I. Wild nights|
I. Wild nights
|03||II. After great pain|
II. After great pain
|04||III. A train|
III. A train
|05||IV. I shall keep singing!|
IV. I shall keep singing!
|06||V. The Months have ends|
V. The Months have ends
|MSM Symphony Orchestra, David Gilbert, conductor||9:22|
|Paolo Marchettini, clarinet, MSM Chamber Orchestra, Kyle Ritenauer, conductor|
|10||III. (homage to Frescobaldi)|
III. (homage to Frescobaldi)
|13||VI. (cadenza) - VII.|
VI. (cadenza) - VII.
|Orchestra Roma Sinfonietta, Gabriele Bonolis, conductor||13:28|
Paolo Marchettini’s music is full of character, lyricism, and pathos. This release, his debut, features his works for orchestra that encapsulate his colorful orchestration and his dramatically expressive sensibility, grounded intuitively in the Italian musical tradition. Marchettini himself is featured as the soloist in his clarinet Concertino, while the five movement title work sets poems by Emily Dickinson with soprano Alda Caiello.
Mercy, the opening track, begins with an imploring figure, an invitation to “enter a deeper dimension,” as Marchettini describes in a written interview with composer Nils Vigeland in the liner notes. There is a subterranean foreboding in these opening two minutes, a hint of potential energy being stored up before its release. The orchestra shimmers with tactile, velvety instrumental colors and Marchettini teases the listener with small bits of emphatic material surrounded by sighing figures echoing the opening. A gently galloping figure signals the more active middle section, as the winds and brass punctuate with splashes of sound. The rhythm intensifies around figures that are passed through the orchestra, culminating in a circus-like passage evocative of the expressive complexity one finds in ensemble scenes in a Fellini film. Mercy’s third section explores more chordal movement in the strings, with a poignant violin solo floating over the top of rich harmonies. One final climactic arrival leads into a reprise of the haunting character of the opening, or as Marchettini describes it, “a reunification: it is a return to the origin, the roots.”Read More
Raucous brass fanfares and unhinged vocal melismas characterize “Wild nights,” the energetic opening song of the five movement Emily Dickinson setting, The Months have ends. “After great pain” captures the disembodied feeling that overtakes the grieving, when one has to proceed with one’s life amidst emotional trauma. Impetuous bird-song figures are heard flitting through several of the instrumental parts in “A train.” “I shall keep singing!” is celebratory and flowing; here, the vocal part is bird-like, swooping in the high register amongst darting, soloistic fragments that pop out of the orchestral texture. The cycle ends with the title poem, a reflection on time, mortality, and human nature.
Inspired by Verdi’s Otello, Notturno is shrouded in mystery from its first bars, poised with the apprehension of a “dense night.” Marchettini explores a tolling figure that outlines a descending perfect fourth with the half-steps surrounding it and a subsequent leap up a perfect fifth. The mixture of closely spaced chromaticism with open intervals intensifies the haunting quality of the passage. Pulsing chords lead into a brief passage of angular lines, before a halo of tremolo string voicings accompanies a childlike melody on glockenspiel. The climax of the work emerges like a wave, with rumbling brass sonorities and swirling chords in the strings. An uneasy resolution is found briefly in the coda, as lush chords are played over a pedal point between gentle gong strokes.
The clarinet Concertino is in seven movements, each different in character and instrumentation, but all unified by the role the soloist plays as a searching protagonist. The solo line often leads the texture into more intense territory, shadowed by instruments in the orchestra who echo arrival pitches in the clarinet line directly afterward. Following the patiently developing opening movement, pointed rhythms in a fast triple meter frame the second movement, highlighted by deft passagework and trills in the solo and string parts. The third movement is a brief and delicate homage to Girolamo Frescobaldi, the great Italian baroque composer; fragile lines intertwine between the ensemble and solo clarinet. In the fourth movement, the rhythmic contour of the solo line is supported with accents in the ensemble, while in the fifth, mysterious chords in the pitched percussion provide a backdrop for freely lyrical clarinet writing, before we hear virtuosic descending septuplets played in rhythmic unison. A brief cadenza features those same septuplets and darting leaps from a fundamental trill. The orchestra re-emerges gently from a sustained clarinet note and unfolds into dialogues between soloist and orchestra, before the piece closes reflectively, the antithesis of the standard heroic concerto ending.
Like Mercy, the final work on the recording, Aere perEnnius, is in three large parts, first calm and wistful, then rhythmic and dance-like, and finally rhapsodically nostalgic. The work is dedicated to the great Italian film composer Ennio Morricone; a cinematic approach to painting a scene is apparent throughout, as splashes of orchestral color enliven the score and characterize its expressive shifts. The overall shape of the album mirrors Marchettini’s favored approach to structure within individual pieces — we are invited into a listening experience, almost as a ritual, guided through a journey of intensified affects, before we are ushered back to a zone of stability, albeit transformed. Marchettini’s instinct for shape and pacing seeps into every work on this recording, and provides the frame for the searching lyricism that is omnipresent on a moment to moment level in his music.
– Dan Lippel
Executive Producer: Paolo Marchettini
Mastering engineer: Ryan Streber, Oktaven Audio, oktavenaudio.com
Post-production advisor: Daniel Lippel
Design and Layout: Marc Wolf, marcjwolf.com
Cover & back cover art: Marco Gallotta
Mercy was recorded live at the Teatro Verdi in Florence, Italy on 10/19/2012
The Months have ends was recorded live at the Teatro Verdi in Florence, Italy on 3/27/2014
Notturno and Concertino were recorded live at the Manhattan School of Music on 4/5/2013 and 10/17/2011 respectively, by MSM’s Myers Recording Studio
Aere perEnnius was recorded live at the Teatro Palladium in Rome, Italy on 11/16/2018
VI. “Cadenza” from Concertino recorded at Oktaven Audio, 2/14/2020, Ryan Streber, engineer
Composer, clarinetist, and pianist, Paolo Marchettini is a native of Rome, Italy. With a wide catalogue of works including orchestral, choral, vocal and chamber music, his music has been commissioned and performed by an array of international festivals including the Biennale di Venezia (Venice), PlayIt! Festival (Florence), Festival Berio (Rome), Nuova Consonanza (Rome), Villecroze (France), Baki Contempo Festivali (Azerbaijan) and others.
In 2005 he was a prizewinner in the prestigious Queen Elisabeth Competition for his Violin Concerto, while his piece Mercy for orchestra won the 2012 PlayIt! Festival prize as best symphonic piece of the year. His music has been performed by orchestras and ensembles such as the Orchestra Regionale Toscana, Orchestra Roma Sinfonietta, Orchestra di Santa Cecilia, the Sofia Radio Symphony Orchestra, Algoritmo Ensemble, and Freon Ensemble, and broadcasted by Vatican Radio, Rai Radiotre, and Swiss Radio.
As an active and accomplished clarinetist, he has performed as soloist with orchestras in both Europe and the United States, and collaborated directly with many distinguished composers including Goffredo Petrassi, Luciano Berio, Salvatore Sciarrino, Ennio Morricone, and Sylvano Bussotti.
Marchettini holds a doctorate in composition from the Manhattan School of Music. He studied composition, choral music, choral conducting, and clarinet at the Conservatorio and Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in his native Rome, and graduated with honors from Tor Vergata University in Rome with a degree in Arts, Music and Show Disciplines. His teachers included Ivan Vandor, Azio Corghi, Claudio Dall’Albero, and Richard Danielpour. He served as Assistant Professor of Composition at the Berklee College of Music (Boston), and he currently teaches in the Theory Department at the Manhattan School of Music (New York).
The notes D, E-flat, F and G walk into a bar… this set-up describes the opening of Mercy, from a collection of the orchestral music of Paolo Marchettini. An E-natural creeps in, bringing ambiguity with it. Sometimes the E sounds a note of warmth, other times it harshly clashes with two neighbouring pitches. Where is mercy, one might ask? The walls of this perfect fourth confine the ear, or protect it: prison or sanctuary? The gentle tone, and palette limited to the colours of strings, senza vibrato, gives way to menace in the middle section, brassy bombast overpowering the opening textures. Mercy is deferred until the final minutes, where a violin solo offers kindness.
The Months have ends sets five Emily Dickinson poems for soprano and orchestra. Alda Caiello has the necessary vocal power to match the forces accompanying her, but the mix sometimes favours the instrumentals to the point of overpowering the voice. I find the brashness of the music at odds with my feeling for Dickinson’s words, but it is bracing to hear her poetry brought into the contemporary idiom. There are audible artifacts of live performance here and elsewhere, some emanating from the podium!
Notturno follows the pattern of Mercy, exploring relationships of pitches and tone within a limited frame, here juxtaposing a perfect fourth against a contrasting whole-tone dyad. Marchettini performs ably as soloist in his Concertino for Clarinet, an effective introspective addition to the contemporary rep for the instrument. The orchestra of the Manhattan School of Music mostly keeps their end of the bargain in these two pieces. Aere perEnnius is an homage to Marchettini’s compatriot colleague, Ennio Morricone; it alternates between melancholia and bombast.
— Max Christie, 3.17.2021
Nobody doubts that we live in tumultuous times these days. How can I keep on writing about music when the world seems bound for hell in a handbasket? We need music now as much as ever, I would answer. It is what can heal us and allow us to go forward again. And so I keep on.
Today I am enjoying another new one and another new artist to me, a composer by the name of Paulo Marchettini. There is a worthwhile disk devoted to his orchestral works just coming out. It is named after one of the pieces, The Months Have Ends (New Focus Recordings FCR280).
The five works presented in this debut album have a great deal of gravitas, a seriousness of purpose and a dramatic richness that thrives within a balanced poise of expression.
Marchettini hails from Rome and currently makes his home in Manhattan. Interestingly he cites as influences Verdi, Frescobaldi and Morricone. The influences happily are realized obliquely in that the music itself stands on its own as a lyrical-tonal Modern Expressionism of an original sort.
A high point is the six movement The Months Have Ends, an alternately reflective and brashly animated score for soprano Alda Caiello and Orchestra della Toscana. It is based on Emily Dickinson.
The seven movement Concertino features the composer on clarinet and the MSM Chamber Orchestra for a nicely wrought, wiry romp that sings out boldly and features beautifully intertwined clarinet-orchestral interactions.
Notturno is alternatingly a deeply mysterious and agitated descriptive work that shows us an eloquence that is far from the ordinary today.
The entire program is noteworthy and well performed.
— Grego Applegate Edwards, 1.08.2021
Many things distinguish this debut recording of works by composer Paolo Marchettini, but one in particular stands out: maturity. All five are refined, impeccably crafted pieces by a composer who clearly knows his own voice. None of the missteps of the young composer are present, and we come away from the collection with a strong understanding of who Marchettini is. Born in Rome and currently ensconced in New York City, the composer—also a clarinetist and pianist—presents a variety of works on the release, with single-movement orchestral pieces joined by a five-part vocal setting of Emily Dickinson poems and a clarinet concertino featuring Marchettini himself. His music's well-served by the performers, soprano Alda Caiello, the Orchestra della Toscana, the Orchestra Roma Sinfonietta, and the Manhattan School of Music Chamber Orchestra.
While his music is grounded in the Italian tradition (Verdi, Frescobaldi, and Morricone are cited as inspirations), it's not overly derivative; it registers as a personalized continuation of the tradition, and, given the evidence at hand, it's safe to characterize Marchettini's material as lyrical, expressive, and rich. In an interview with him included in the release booklet, fellow composer Nils Vigeland astutely notes that, the title work aside, each piece follows a dramatic arc that sees the material begin and end quietly and with maximum tension in the centre. That approach lends a Marchettini piece the feel of a journey, specifically one with an intense central part framed by a calmer start and finish. That shared element aside, each work distinguishes itself from the others in identifiable ways.
No one better illustrates this structural inclination than the fifteen-minute opener Mercy in how it progresses from a subdued, almost foreboding intro to pronounced agitation in the middle and poignant resolution at the close. That tripartite design is subtly executed, however, in the seamless transitions that occur from one episode to the next. Marchettini's superior command of orchestral colour is evident throughout, particularly in the way contrasting timbres are used to establish mood. Among the episodes that stand out are a central one featuring woodwinds and a subsequent elegiac section dominated by a haunting solo violin, but in truth orchestration impresses throughout.
Consistent with its title, “Wild nights” initiates the Dickinson-based title song cycle on an impassioned, even eruptive note, energy high but not so much that the movement careens out of control. Caiello acquits herself admirably here, as she does in the subsequent four parts. Whereas “After great pain” is noticeably sombre in its evocation of grief's aftermath, “I shall keep singing!” is joyful and life-affirming. “A train,” on the other hand, references departure and death, its sober reflections accented by trill-like figures suggesting a nearby bird's voicings; the sixteen-minute piece ruminates again in the concluding “The Months have ends,” this time on mortality and time.
The seven-movement Concertino is scored for clarinet, strings, and percussion and thus austere in its presentation compared to the other pieces. Contrast figures heavily when the composer's woodwind separates itself vividly from the strings and vibraphone. The impression created is of a solitary figure (the soloist) on a search, with travels taking him through dramatically different realms. Intense, dance-like activity marks some, melancholy others. In its range of moods, effects, and dynamics, Marchettini's Concertino has obvious value as a potential concert selection for the clarinet soloist.
Drawing directly for inspiration from Verdi's Otello, Notturno is as dark and mysterious as expected. The second of three single-movement works, the nine-minute setting broods portentously, the composer using tone colour sensitively to paint the nocturnal scene. At recording's end, Aere per Ennius closes the circle with a Morricone-dedicated work whose three-part design and mood transitions are structurally reminiscent of Mercy and its picturesque writing in keeping with its dedicatee. As before, we advance from an initial state of calm to rhythmically charged moments before concluding delicately.
There's much to admire about the recording, including one quality not yet mentioned: patience. One of the ways that Marchettini's maturity is clearly demonstrated is in the patience with which he lets his compositions unfold. His command of orchestration likewise serves the material in strengthening its emotional impact. Regardless of whether the music is energized and blustery or subdued and gentle, it always impresses for its poise and presentation.
— Ron Schepper, 2.08.2021
A composer, clarinetist and pianist, Paolo Marchettini comes through with a debut for works of orchestra here, where inspiration from Verdi, Frescobaldi, Morricone and Emily Dickinson is present and appreciated.
“Mercy” starts the listen with 15 minutes of orchestral swells of bareness and tension, as violin solos and plenty of harmonies unfold near the end, and “The Months Have Ends” follows with 5 movements of operatic singing, firm brass and a poetic quality to the Emily Dickinson piece.
In the middle, “Notturno” flows with plenty of mystery and beauty, as strings are manipulated with much precision amid a haunting tone that embraces the very sophisticated landscape, while “Concertino” recruits clarinet across 7 movements of rich texturing and rhythmic exploration. The album finishes with “Aere perEnnius”, where gentle moments are met with dance friendly gestures as well as plenty of emotion
A native of Rome, Italy, Marchettini has an incredible resume and has collaborated with some of the best composers of this generation. The Months Have Ends, with its colorful and innovative approach, is certainly only adding to his incredible accomplishments.
— Tom Haugen, 1.18.2021
The music scenes of Rome and New York shape the directly appealing music of Paolo Marchettini, who individually continues the legacy of late Romanticism and modernism. The album "The Months Have Ends" brings together orchestral music from the years 2011 to 2018: "Mercy" fans out the elegance broadly and in between sharpened. In “Notturno” atmospheric orchestral surfaces meet vibraphone, in “Aere perEnnius” changing emotions result in a film for the ears. Marchettini can handle the colors with virtuosity, create tension over time and masters the emotional staging. In the orchestral song cycle “The Months Have Ends” based on poems by Emily Dickinson, this is condensed into breathtaking dramatic interpretations. And in the dazzling stylistic pluralism of the “Concertino” with the composer on the solo clarinet, it even becomes experimental in some cases. All those involved on this CD make the works bloom brilliantly.
(original review in German below, English translation by Google Translate)
Die Musikszenen Roms und New Yorks prägen die direkt ansprechende Musik von Paolo Marchettini, der das Erbe der Spätromantik und der Moderne individuell fortschreibt. Das Album „The Months Have Ends“ versammelt Orchestermusik aus den Jahren 2011 bis 2018: „Mercy“ fächert Elegisches breit und zwischendurch geschärft auf. Im „Notturno“ treffen atmosphärische Orchesterflächen auf Vibrafon, in „Aere perEnnius“ ergibt sich aus wechselnden Emotionen ein Film für die Ohren. Marchettini kann virtuos mit den Farben umgehen, Spannung im Zeitverlauf gestalten und beherrscht die emotionale Inszenierung. Im Orchesterliederzyklus „The Months Have Ends“ auf Gedichte von Emily Dickinson verdichtet sich dies zu atemberaubenden dramatischen Deutungen. Und im schillernden Stilpluralismus des „Concertino“ mit dem Komponisten an der Soloklarinette wird es teils sogar experimentell. Sämtliche Mitwirkende dieser CD bringen die Werke bravourös zum Erblühen.
— Eckhard Weber, 4.14.2021
No less than Richard Danielpour (his former teacher) called Paolo Marchettini “one of the finest composers of his generation,” and “arguably one of the greatest Italian composers alive today.” Marchettini was born in Rome in 1974, and received his doctorate in composition from the Manhattan School of Music, where he now teaches music theory. Before coming to New York, he studied at Santa Cecilia in Rome where, in addition to composition, he studied choral music, choral conducting, and the clarinet. It looks like this CD is the first to be devoted to his music. The recordings were made between 2012 (Mercy) and 2019 (the cadenza from the Concertino).
The booklet contains a conversation between the composer and fellow composer Nils Vigeland, former chair of the Manhattan School of Music’s Composition Department. In that conversation, Marchettini expresses his admiration for Verdi, Frescobaldi, and Morricone, the impact that living in New York has had on his music, and his nostalgia for the time when the boundary between classical and popular music was not as defined as it is today. While Marchettini’s music is communicative, and not just to other musicians, it has little to do with modern popular music and it sounds more Italian than American. Near the end of Notturno, Marchettini alludes to the act I love duet from Verdi’s Otello. The third movement of the Concertino is an “Homage to Frescobaldi,” and Aere PerEnnius was dedicated to Ennio Morricone on the occasion of that composer’s 90th birthday.
Mercy won the 2012 PlayIt! Festival prize for the best orchestral composition of the year. One of the things that Marchettini admires about Verdi is how that composer could be eloquent with only a handful of notes, and sometimes just one. Mercy aims for similar frugality: a “short fragment of five notes” is “austere in the first part,” “vital and rhythmic in the second,” and “full of compassion in the final chorale.” The music’s language is not necessarily easy, but its form is not difficult to follow, and after a few listens the music starts to fall impressively into place. At least it did for me. Although I was initially skeptical, I now can understand why this was a prize-winning work.
The Months Have Ends is a setting for soprano and orchestra of five poems by Emily Dickinson, beginning with Wild Nights, which John Adams set for chorus in his Harmonium, so it is fun to compare and contrast the two settings. Suffice it to say that Marchettini is no Minimalist, that his reaction to the poem is more violent than Adams’s, and that the cycle flutters to its final resting place after this agitated opening. Marchettini writes, “This work traces a journey on the caducity of human experience.” (Merriam-Webster defines “caducity” as “senility” and “the quality of being transitory or perishable.” Now you know!) One cannot call the vocal writing traditionally melodic, other than in the last movement, but it is undeniably expressive, and it serves the texts well. Again, this is a work that seems difficult to penetrate at first, but that yields to repeated effort.
Notturno elicits appreciation for Marchettini’s control over orchestral timbres. It is beautifully written and evocative, but never sweet or facile. The Concertino opens in a mood of Mahlerian Weltschmerz, although it rouses itself, and the seven brief sections are varied and attractive. Marchettini writes that, in the last section, “the ending reveals the hidden tonal implication of the material: the clarinet seems to find its peace here, like a dream under the shadow of a distant chord.” Aere PerEnnius (there seems to be a play on words here) sounds nothing like Morricone’s film music, but reminds us that the late Italian master was astonishingly versatile—always different, and yet always the same. That’s what I got out of Marchettini’s tribute, anyway. Again, the orchestral writing is particularly refined, and one feels how well-crafted the music, even if one does not necessarily have the tools to describe that craftsmanship.
Marchettini himself is credited as the executive producer on this CD, and one assumes that he got what he wanted out of the performers. In any case, the performances seem very good, as does the engineering, even though multiple locations and personnel were involved.
This CD reminded me that first impressions are sometimes wrong, and that a responsible reviewer cannot rely on them. Multiple listening sessions were required before I started to appreciate Marchettini’s music. What is it that they say about acquired tastes? Maybe Danielpour was right. Recommended.
— Raymond Tuttle, 7.17.2021
Composers’ decisions on combining instruments, including voices, constitute unique musical signatures that make individual pieces, as well as their creators, distinctive. The six Paolo Marchettini works on a new CD from New Focus Recordings certainly have elements in common, both as strengths and as weaknesses, but also show Marchettini’s differing approaches to the use of instrumentation, depending on what he is trying to communicate. Three works on the disc are entirely orchestral: Mercy, Notturno, and Aere perEnnius. All are most effective in their darker, more atmospheric elements, which open Mercy and Aere perEnnius and constitute the whole of Notturno. Those elements are integral to the music in ways that come through clearly no matter what ensemble performs the material: Mercy features the Orchestra della Toscana conducted by Francesco Lanzillotta; Notturno is played by the MSM Symphony Orchestra conducted by David Gilbert; and Aere perEnnius is offered by Orchestra Roma Sinfonietta conducted by Gabriele Bonolis. The most-effective of the works is Notturno, its mood remaining uneasy and mysterious throughout. This is the shortest of the three pieces – a fact that helps explain its impact. Marchettini tries to do more with the other works, with Mercy becoming increasingly complex and emphatic before returning to the sensibility of its opening, while Aere perEnnius seeks rather cinematic emotional intensification before, again, returning to its opening mood. Marchettini handles the orchestra skillfully in all three works, but his attempts to pull additional color and expanded sonorities from specific sections of the ensemble (and of the longer pieces) are not as emotionally convincing as his somberly lyrical material. Marchettini seeks even more variability of effect in his Concertino for clarinet and orchestra, which he performs as soloist with the MSM Chamber Orchestra conducted by Kyle Ritenauer. This seven-movement work gives Marchettini plenty of opportunities to show his skill as a performer – and to showcase the wide range of notes and emotions of which the clarinet is capable – but the overall impact of the music is rather underwhelming. Concertino is the kind of piece that will certainly appeal to performers, given its near-constant calls for virtuosity and sensitive playing; but it does not have much to say to an audience beyond offering a sonic environment for its own sake. It is impressive to hear once but does not have much staying power for listeners. And the other work on this CD, The Months Have Ends, is even more disappointing. This would logically seem to be a highly emotive piece, setting five poems by Emily Dickinson for soprano and orchestra. But Alda Caiello – accompanied by the Orchestra della Toscana under Carlo Rizzari – does not make much of a case for the poetry; or rather, Marchettini does not ask her to do so. The settings range from the self-consciously screechy (the opening “Wild nights”) to arrangements that seem intended to be evocative but are simply unconvincing, with Caiello’s so-so enunciation mixing rather uneasily with Marchettini’s orchestrations. There is considerable variety in the Dickinson poems set here, which include After great pain, A train, I shall keep singing! and the poem that gives the overall work its title. But there is a sameness and a sense of pushing the material too hard throughout this work: it never conveys the emotions expressed by Dickinson with anything like the clarity of the words themselves.
— Mark J. Estren, 1.28.2021
Very much a different kind of contemporary classical cat because he really is a classic classical cat. With sweeping grand moves worthy of Living Stereo and Masterworks sessions form the 50s, this Italian native currently soaking in what New York has to offer really takes you back to grandpa’s time and probably provides some interesting memories as well as interesting melodies. Accessible enough for the newbie to latch onto as well as having the vet enjoying a fine time, this is a composer that has a real feel for the ages and tradition. Finely crafted work that holds you throughout.
— Chris Spector, 1.13.2021
The Italian composer-clarinettist (who has worked as performer with many European luminaries of this avant-garde) has lived in the USA for the past decade, which he suggests has made his music more multicultural and cosmopolitan than it was previously. These sophisticated, sinewy works, serious and dramatic, are nonetheless entirely approachable, which may also be a result of his move - all are from his American years. Mercy is a powerful instrumental Miserere, beginning with angular tension, passing through a turbulent central section, unexpectedly vehement, even violent, and on a larger scale than the supplicatory nature of the prayerful subtext might suggest, before arriving at a serene but strained chorale. This arch structure, with a tumultuous central climax bracketed by an ‘introduction' and ‘postlude', is a favourite device of the composer’s, applying to the Nocturne, which builds a terrifying nightmare which erupts out of mysterious shades of night and recedes into them; and Aere perEnnius, a 90th birthday tribute to Ennio Morricone, which, while not sounding like Morricone's music nevertheless has something of the lush, neo-romantic textures of a film score. The Concertino suggests the journey of a protagonist through seven 'scenes' enacting a darkness to light narrative, progressing from darkness and ambiguously tonal (rather Wagnerian) melancholy to a warm, tonal resolution. The song cycle assembles a narrative on the impermanence of human existence from five of Emily Dickinson's strangely, richly symbolic poems, beginning with almost expressionistic dramatic vehemence and continuing in late-romantic chromaticism to a resigned conclusion.