Hesketh: Through Magic Casements; Horae (Pro Clara); Notte oscura; Three Japanese Miniatures

Reviewed on Mon 13 Jun, 2016

The title track is a ‘miniature book of hours’, its 12 evocative parts marked by densely argued technical demands, a broad colour palette and a challenging variety of articulation, the overall effect one of satisfyingly labyrinthine mystery and complexity.

There’s a curious but compelling amalgam at the heart of this richly satisfying recital. Simultaneously concentrated and relaxed, Kenneth Hesketh’s music carries itself with all the poetic intensity of a Haiku. In newly anointed RPS Young Artist Clare Hammond, he’s found the perfect interpreter, her meticulously measured playing encapsulating Hesketh’s intelligently constructed, emotionally loaded phrases with flair and finesse. The title track is a ‘miniature book of hours’, its 12 evocative parts marked by densely argued technical demands, a broad colour palette and a challenging variety of articulation, the overall effect one of satisfyingly labyrinthine mystery and complexity. Fragments and paraphrases from other works in progress, the Three Japanese Miniatures show Hesketh thinking aloud in now tentative, now bold gobbets of still-forming material. Vivid exercises in atmosphere are the hymning of Keats in Through Magic Casements and Notte Oscura, which conjures the fierceness of a Russian winter to chilling effect. Excellent sound adds to the attractions of a disc with much to recommend it.
–Michael Quinn