Jonathan Dove: In Damascus


Even though Jonathan Dove is best known as a vocal or choral composer, with operas and works for children forming the backbone of his output, his chamber music reveals similar predilections for narrative, drama, atmosphere and a sense of the personal.

His new commission from the Sacconi Quartet In Damascus was inspired by the violinist Hannah Dawson’s suggestion for a work that should reflect aspects of the conflict in Syria; not because music can offer any political solution, but simply as an expression of empathy, sorrow, even outrage at those terrible events. Featuring a performance by tenor Mark Padmore, the text is taken from prose-poems by Ali Safar that draw on his first- hand experiences in Syria, eloquently translated by Anne-Marie McManus.

The Sacconi’s present this new work alongside his string quartet work Out of Time, and his Piano Quintet – performed with pianist Charles Owen.


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Sacconi Quartet

Mark Padmore tenor

Charles Owen piano


Release date: 7th July 2017
Order code: SIGCD487
Barcode: 635212048726

Classical Ear 4*review: “Jonathan Dove’s In Damascus proves a powerful, passionate and above all humane commentary on that country’s current plight… impeccable playing from the Sacconi Quartet”


BBC Radio 3 Record Review review: “Mark Padmore uses his voice with such emotional intelligence… the string playing is by turn both dark and passionate”


Presto Classical News: “Jonathan Dove’s new work, In Damascus, reflects aspects of the conflict in Syria; as an expression of empathy, sorrow, even outrage at those terrible events, with text taken from prose-poems by Ali Safar, translated by Anne-Marie McManus. It is presented alongside Dove’s string quartet, Out of Time, and his Piano Quintet.”


The Guardian 4* review: “The beauty of the piece, for tenor and string quartet, is its restraint. It doesn’t sensationalise, get maudlin, moralise or politicise. The words are direct and the music respects that. The performance does, too: focused playing from the Sacconi Quartet and lucid, unswerving narrative from tenor Mark Padmore”



Full Tracklisting

Out of Time for String Quartet

[1] I. Quite fast
[2] II. Slow
[3] III. Stomping
[4] IV. Lively
[5] V. Fast
[6] VI. Gently moving


Piano Quintet

[7] I. Energetic
[8] II. Very spacious
[9] III. Lively


In Damascus for Tenor and String Quartet
Text by Ali Safar, as translated by Anne-Marie McManus

[10] I. A little while ago
[11] II. And what if you weep alone
[12] III. Two days ago
[13] IV. Here and now in Damascus
[14] V. e many faces of Damascus
[15] VI. Instrumental
[16] VII. Soon, we will be free
[17] VIII. I don’t think any nations
[18] IX. On all my travels, I’d take a book
[19] X. My heart is a black lump of coal
[20] XI. My country

Click Here to view and download the PDF booklet for this release