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.
★★★★ 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 – Classical Ear
★★★★ 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 – The Guardian
Mark Padmore uses his voice with such emotional intelligence… the string playing is by turn both dark and passionate – BBC Radio 3 Record Review