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Gloria Coates

Symphony No. 15 (Homage to Mozart)
Cantata da Requiem (World War II Poems of Peace)

Naxos 8.559371

This is beautiful music (granted beauty is in the ear of the beholder) to our loss rarely likely to be encounted in UK which should pose no problems for listeners who are familiar with, say, the sound worlds of Scelsi, Xenakis and early Penderecki. Quoting from Kyle Gann's notes for Naxos, Coates - the most prolific female symphonist in history (15 ties her with Shostakovich) - made a career out of the slow glissando !

Start with the moving bi-lingual songs of War in 1942 (texts in both English and German provided) composed 1972 in Munich, where she still lives, 'with its careful attention to the primacy of the text'. The six songs are gripping and moving, even if today's events make the optimistic ending ring a little hollow: "If all these great dyings can teach us how to live in peace then all these sorrows were not in vain".

Marvellously sung by Terri Dunn, it would make its memorable effect anywhere.

Symphony No. 15 (2005, recorded at rehearsal; no harm in that?) is far from neo-classical, albeit she quotes Mozart's last motet, Ave Verum Corpus, played backwards towards the end.

Transitions (1984) has 'the same overlay of glissandos and tonal chorales' in a more stripped-down chamber contex, Dido's When I Am Laid in Earth clearly heard. Coates's music - - 'sets us down in musical landscapes which disallow our usual figure-ground experiences of focusing within a musical texture'.

Peter Grahame Woolf

See also our reviews of three other symphonies and three of the string quartets at http://www.musicalpointers.co.uk/reviews/cddvd/GloriaCoatesSymphonies.htm