This CD is a stark reminder of the sheer horror and wanton destruction faced by humanity in the period known as the First World War which was to decimate practically half of Europe's youth male population over four bloody years. Orchid has come up with some lovely presentation – the front cover is particularly striking for its simplicity and spine tingling message.
Matthew Trusler chooses three seminal chamber works from those years. For me the real discovery was the Janáček Sonata, a work I had not encountered before with its stark delineated lines and almost spine tingling final bars. Trusler also finds much emotion in the Elgar and Debussy works but somehow they don't quite match up to the emotional intensity of the Janáček which is a true corker.
However the highlight must be the second disc with Samuel west reading Wilfred Owen's unforgettable poems – a life's work condensed into those four years. The tragedy and strange futility which lead one to an inexorable end are all present in those classics, "Anthem for Doomed Youth", "Spring Offensive" and "Dulce et Decorum Est". But the final poem – the greatest of them all, "Strange Meeting" remains my perennial favourite for its sheer imagination and awesome sense of imagery. The musical bits interspersed between the poems add to the sense of dramatic occasion. This is an important project which certainly deserves the most unquestioned recommendation.
Copyright © 2010, Gerald Fenech.