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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Harrison Birtwistle, Gawain, an Opera

Harrison Birtwistle has a way with his music that goes beyond English rootedness in that he could be said to belong as much or more to the international school of modern classical, at least in the sound of his more advanced works. You can hear that on his opera Gawain (NMC 2-CD) which has recently been reissued as performed admirably by the Royal Opera Chorus and Orchestra under Elgar Howarth with excellent soloists. They premiered the work in 1991.

It is based on the King Arthur legend, and since the PDF I received with the work is causing the merry devil with my computer, no doubt due to my computer as much as anything, that more or less is all I will say here.

The music itself is high expressionist, high modernist and quite compelling. Certainly it is one of Birtwistle's major offerings. The Royal Opera performance is exceptional.

Beyond that my computer is acting up badly so I must cut this review short. I am very sorry.

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