I heard Maw's Ghost Dances this summer (Boston Musica Viva at Tanglewood)
and I was for some reason or another strangely attracted to the work's
rhetoric. It is extremely esoteric music, but I found the oddities among
Maw's use of traditional dance rhythms and melodic/harmonic material
reminiscent of Brahms, Poulenc, and Martinu. Unfortunately, the work was
overshadowed by Judith Weir's magical Consolations of Scholarship which
followed after intermission.
Maw's Odyssey has been in my collection for some time. Although it takes
an immense time investment to listen to the whole piece, I again find it
rewarding when I find the time--it is extremely well proportioned and has
a Birtwistle-esque sense of kinetic energy...a massive wall of sound
constantly moving forward and inviting the listener to follow.
The Violin Concerto was immediately a draw for me. Needless to say, the
technicalities of the recording (soloist, orchestra, balance, etc) are
exemplary. I've only listened to the piece twice through, but it's sense
of proprtion is very convincing and there are some very beatufiul moments
in the piece (the last 4 or 5 minutes are definitely very impressive).
I find Maw's language somewhat akin to the 'Manchester' school of
composers (Maxwell Davies, Goehr, et al) yet even one step further in
the idiosyncratic direction. Maybe I can report more after a few more
listens through the piece.