Gerald Fenech

“This fine Toccata issue introduced me to the music of Michael Csányi-Wills for the first time, and I have to admit that it turned out to be no meanexperience. Born in 1975, this Englishcomposer (with deep Hungarianroots) was first given a taste of music by his opera-loving grandmother. Indeed, she took him to see Donizetti’s Don Pasquale when he was just three, and from then on the youngboy never looked back. The real turning point came after he met Nigel Clarke at the Royal Academy of Music, and with whom he studied composition. As Csányi-Wills’ horizons widened, his collaboration with Clarke flourished, and together they went on to produce several feature-filmscores among other projects. At present Csányi-Wills is composer-in-residence of the Welsh Sinfonia, for whom he has written several pieces for chamberorchestra. He is also Head of Composition at the WorldHeart Beat Academy in Wandsworth, which supports young musicians of all backgrounds and cultures who would otherwise not have access to music. This CD is dedicated to some of the orchestralsongs that the composer wrote during the last six years, and all three compositions deal with the subject of loss.

The ‘Three Songs: Budapest1944′ use documentation from his own family history: the last letter that Csányi-Wills’ grandmother wrote to her children before disappearing from her flat in Budapest in October 1944 in which she shadows the fate of Hungary’s Jews under the Nazis.

In the ‘Six A E Housman Songs’ each piece is wholly permeated by the theme of mortality and death, while the Elegy for Our Timesets an anguished lament by Jessica d’Este, inspired by the loss of her grand-daughter, who died tragically in a car crash aged just twenty-three. This is meaty stuff indeed, with anger and grief alternating with many moments of stillness and almost petrified meditation, which are thenatural emotions one is gripped by whenever someone close to your heart passes away.

A stimulating initiation to the sound-world of a composer whose work certainly demands closer scrutiny. Sonics and annotations (by the composer himself) are first-rate”