Thomas Adès’s Op. 1 is a romantic, fanciful, finely wrought response to colourful ‘minor poems’ of T.S. Eliot, with ingenuities unobtrusively tucked away into the composition. At the close of ‘New Hampshire’ the piano sings in counterpoint ‘Do you want the stars to play with, the moon to run away with?’ ‘Rannoch’ explores chromatic-scale descents as inventively as Verdi explored an ‘enigmatic scale’ in his Ave Maria. They underpin, without jeopardizing, his spontaneous response to Eliot’s lines. ‘Cape Ann’, bearing an ‘Hommage à Messiaen’ dedication, rings with the birdsongs evoked in the poem.
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