Search catalogue


Brett Dean - The Lost Art of Letter Writing

Composer Brett Dean
Performer Gondwana Voices
Frank Peter Zimmermann
BBC Symphony Orchestra
Sydney Symphony Orchestra
Martyn Brabbins, conductor
Jonathan Nott, conductor
David Robertson, conductor
Period Contemporary
Catalogue Number BIS-2016 SACD
EAN 7318599920160
Format SACD Hybrid

This hybrid disc plays on both CD and SACD players
SACD Surround - SACD Stereo - CD Stereo

Release date Sep 2013
Total time 86'22

Reingehört, Fono Forum
Double 5 star review, BBC Music Magazine
Opus d'Or, Opus HD Magazine

More than most composers currently active, Brett Dean uses music to tackle political and social themes of our times. A common factor in the works on this recording is the sometimes problematic aspects of &&&human communication and the erosion and misuse of language.

In his violin concerto The Lost Art of Letter Writing, which was awarded the renowned Grawemeyer Award in 2009, Dean strikes a blow for written correspondence, demonstrating how, even today, the art of letter writing, the conveyance of wholly individual mood pictures, is possible. Each of the four movements is prefaced by a quotation from an historical letter, from Brahms to Clara Schumann, from van Gogh to a painter colleague, from Hugo Wolf to his brother-in-law and, finally, from Dean’s compatriot, the outlaw Ned Kelly addressing the Australian government.

With a duration of more than 30 minutes the work is a tour-de-force written for Frank Peter Zimmermann, who also performs it here with the eminent support of Sydney Symphony conducted by Jonathan Nott. In the work that follows it, Brett Dean – also a distinguished viola player – makes a guest appearance as part of the viola section of the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

Testament is also is also inspired by the written word: Beethoven’s famous Heiligenstadt Testament, which he wrote while still in shock following the diagnosis of incurable hearing loss. In the piece, Dean traces the fluctuating emotions in Beethoven’s text, and succeeds in musically interpreting it as a turning point, a move from the deepest despair into one of Beethoven’s most important creative periods.

With an exceptional playing time of 86 minutes (!), the disc closes with another large-scale work: Vexations and Devotions. Described by the composer as a ‘sociological cantata’, the three-movement work deals with the dehumanization of society, closely bound up with the loss of language and an increasing sense of alienation. The present recording was made during a public performance of the piece in the framework of the BBC Proms in 2007, with David Robertson conducting the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus and the Australian children’s choir Gondwana Voices.

Technically: VC 24/96, Testament for 12 violas upsampled CD quality, Vexations 24/44,1.
Choose format
  The Lost Art of Letter Writing (2006, rev. 2007) Concerto
for Violin and Orchestra
01 1. Hamburg, 1854 12'11
02 2. The Hague, 1882 9'59
03 3. Vienna, 1886 4'08
04 4. Jerilderie, 1879 7'42
  Testament for 12 violas (2002)
05 Testament for 12 violas (2002) 14'55
  Vexations and Devotions (2005) for SATB choir, children’s
choir, large orchestra and electronics
06 I. Watching Others 9'04
07 II. Bell and Anti-Bell 15'38
08 III. The Path to Your Door 12'41
  Album total 86'22
ViolinZimmermann, Frank Peter
ConductorBrabbins, Martyn
Nott, Jonathan
Robertson, David
OrchestraBBC Symphony Orchestra
Sydney Symphony Orchestra
EnsembleBBC Symphony Orchestra
ChoirBBC Symphony Chorus
Gondwana Voices
LyricistLeunig, Michael
Porter, Dorothy

© BIS Records AB | | Phone +46 (0)8 544 102-30 BIS online store - Terms and Conditions