The Marina Song Project - In Recital

Nicole Panizza (Artist), Jerome Knox (Artist), Alan Shellard (Artist), Shiri Rashkovsky (Artist)

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T.S. Eliot admitted that Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 15 in A Minor had inspired his work Four Quartets. Biographer Lyndall Gordon noted that Beethoven was nearly deaf when he composed that particular quartet. Just as this string quartet was to be the musician’s attempt to move beyond music, she said, Four Quartets was Eliot’s attempt to move beyond words. Eliot himself quoted (in his lecture The Music of Poetry (1942)) that the poet is always ‘occupied with frontiers of consciousness beyond which words fail, though meanings still exist’.

The British-born composer David Matthews (1943-) has produced some of the most innovative and progressive chamber music within Britain over the last 20 years. A musical craftsman of discerning simplicity, his works often evoke a sense of zen-like calm combined with an urgent desire for dramatic and emotional impact and commentary.

Matthews’s evocative and haunting setting of T.S. Eliot’s poem Marina (Op.44) was penned in 1988 and first commissioned that same year by the Bath Festival, in association with the Arts Council of England. It was premiered at the Guildhall, Bath with Henry Herford, Angela Marsbury, Yuko Inoue and Graham Johnson at the piano. Further performances include the BBC Proms in 2007, featuring Alexander Baker (baritone), Virginia Slater (viola), James Burke (basset horn) and Elizabeth Rossiter (piano) and, more recently, a seminal recording by The Nash Ensemble, featuring the baritone Stephan Loges; a recording that was a finalist (Contemporary category) in the Gramophone Award competition of 2011.

Matthews’s reading of Eliot’s work winds its eloquent and spacious vocal line through a restricted range of colour, essentially finding a central image from the poem and meditating on it, expanding and enlarging and in the end returning. The colour of the instrumental trio haunts the memory afterwards, partly through the alluring combination of basset-horn and viola, but above all in the viola’s arching lines, gently animated with Sibelius-like articulations.

This performance of Matthews’s and Eliot’s work is staged in association with the RAI’s 2015 Summer School. Featuring Dr. Nicole Panizza (piano), Jerome Knox (baritone), Alan Shellard (basset horn), and Shiry Rashkovsky (viola), this event will serve as an invitation to hear Eliot’s work in a new light and, crucially, observe it via live musical performance.
Original languageEnglish
Media of outputCD
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jul 2015
EventAction Figures: Political Plots and Promises, Cultural Hopes and Horrors across the American Century: 1916-2016: RAI Summer School 2015 - Rothermere American Institute, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom
Duration: 26 Jun 20153 Jul 2015


  • Music
  • Performing Arts
  • Literature

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Music
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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