Alissa Firsova: Tennyson Fantasy, Op 36; Bride of the Wind, Op 34; Expressions, Opp 9 & 10; Paradise Poems, Op 22; Fantasy, Op 29

Reviewed on Fri 19 Oct, 2018

The blending of pain and poetic escape, delirium and despair precisely set down, purposefully realised, is a defining signature of a recital that rewards repeated listening.

Alissa Firsova’s Tennyson Fantasy has the mark of a modern classic about it. Played here with consummate grace, keening lyricism and biting incision by the Tippett Quartet, who commissioned it in 2016, it’s a work of intense emotional and musical contrasts. The blending of pain and poetic escape, delirium and despair precisely set down, purposefully realised, is a defining signature of a recital that rewards repeated listening. The piano duet Bride of the Wind (with Firsova joined by her tutor Simon Mulligan) is a vivid marriage of watercolour impressionism to ink-black expressionism. Loss, the final part of the Expressions triptych, is a rich, multi-layered work for clarinet quintet that is altogether beguiling in its acerbic balefulness. Two Paradise Poems to texts by Peter Wolrich – for soprano Ellie Laugharne and bass-baritone Nicholas Crawley, accompanied by Firsova’s articulate piano – are eloquent exercises in ecstasy and atmosphere. The Wolrich-inspired Fantasy (Firsova and cellist Tim Hugh) is ripe, resonant and satisfyingly evocative. More please.
–Michael Quinn