Brett Dean is not shy about revealing what his music is ‘about’. Whether inspired by certain individuals (as in Epitaphs), or by an ecological or human disaster (as in his String Quartet No. 1, on the now all too topical plight of refugees), Dean’s works are usually – perhaps invariably – driven by extra-musical narratives. Rather than tease out any innate structural puzzles or tensions, his music typically falls into short little dramatic narratives – no movement on this disc lasts as long as eight minutes, many of them rather less than five. The most obviously successful work here is Quartet No. 2, ‘And once I played Ophelia’, effectively a dramatic scena. Its soprano soloist is no mere extra voice (as in Schoenberg’s Second Quartet) but the leading protagonist. Allison Bell’s genuinely affecting performance is backed by the Doric Quartet’s expressionist scampering and sustained harmonies, the strings occasionally coming to the fore in the manner of a Schumann-style song postlude.
A superb cast brings Oscar Wilde's classic comedy of manners to life in the third big-screen adaptation of this hilarious look at fun, games, and dubious ethics among the British upper crust. Algernon Moncrieff (Rupert Everett) is a slightly shady, but charming gentlemen from a wealthy family who has a bad habit of throwing his money away. Algernon has a close friend named Jack Worthing (Colin Firth), a self-made man who acts as a ward to his cousin, a beautiful young lady named Cecily (Reese Witherspoon). Algernon has created an alter ego to help him get out of tight spots brought on by his financial improprieties, and when he learns that Jack has created a false identity of his own – Earnest, a brother living in London whose exploits have earned him no small amount of notoriety – Algernon arrives for a weekend visit in the country posing as the mysterious Earnest.