Thomas Larcher: What Becomes; A Padmore Cycle review – beautifully tailored bespoke songs

(Harmonia Mundi)

A Padmore Cycle, Thomas Larcher's songs written in 2011 for tenor Mark Padmore, sets poems by Hans Aschenwald and Alois Hotschnig. The gnomic texts sometimes seem to occupy similar territory to those of Schubert's great song cycles. But if Larcher's settings, which are beautifully tailored to the colour, clarity and expressive strengths of Padmore's voice, evoke any specific 19th-century song composer it is Schumann.

Larcher accompanies the songs himself, but he entrusts three of his solo-piano works to Tamara Stefanovich. None of the Poems, "12 pieces for pianists and other children", lasts more than three minutes. As with the seven longer numbers of What Becomes, they range between winsomeness and nagging obsessiveness, although Stefanovich plays both sets with tremendous gusto. She finds a bit more in the prepared piano writing of Smart Dust , but even here there is a nagging sense that Larcher's music rarely amounts to anything more than the sum of its parts.


Andrew Clements

The GuardianTramp

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