Icare (Revised Version)
Nienke Oostenrijk (soprano) *
Mens Voices of the Netherlands Concert Choir *
Martijn van den Hoek (piano)
Arnhem Philharmonic Orchestra
Recorded in 1998 and 1999 in Musis Sacrum, Arnhem
CD No: MARCO POLO 8.225076 Duration: Reviewed: January 2004
Igor Markevitch Complete Orchestral Music, Volume 6 (Marco Polo)
Reviewed by Colin Anderson
Volume 6 of Marco Polos invaluable and enlightening series of the complete orchestral music of Igor Markevitch (1912-1983), best known as a distinguished conductor of course, continues apace and equally continues to deliver the goods. Naxoss big brother (if you will), Marco Polo, is to be congratulated!
Whether Markevitch stopped composing because of the pressures of an international conducting career or because he had run out of ideas is immaterial; what he composed in his precocious youth is original, imaginative and founded on a very impressive technique.
Actually the Piano Concertos first movements motoric drive belongs very much to its time (late 20s) and one is disappointed that Markevitch joined the bandwagon; but then a series of fortissimo punctuating chords try to break the flow, and one is again gratified by Markevitchs character.
In the exuberant opening to Cantate, one might cite Bach, Stravinsky and Prokofiev but in some respects the search for an influence or reference is fruitless; young Markevitch (17 at the time of composition, a year on from the concerto!) in his invention, layout and scoring is wholly personal and focussed. The endless, rather dark, ever-intensifying melody of the second movement is generously sung by Nienke Oostenrijk. The fugue that erupts in the third movement belongs organically and establishes the order out of chaos that Markevitch was seeking, yet without any recourse to academia.Cantate closes with the most beautiful of envois. This is music of confidence, technical assurance and outgoing communication.
Icare is heard in its revision. Gone are the experiments of the first version (Marco Polo 8.223666). The amendments do not deny Icare its quotient of novelty beguiling, unpredictable, suggestive, and further evidence of Markevitchs individuality and ingenuity. Icare, in either version, is music demanding to be heard. Certainly, Markevitchs use of percussion, rarely obvious, and his mastery of layered rhythms, is creation of high intelligence and resource.
These dedicated performances, very well recorded, are enhanced by Christopher Lyndon-Gees well-researched and informed booklet note. Urgently recommended!