DALBAVIE: La source d'une regard. Oboe Concerto. Flute Concerto.
LOCKLAIR: Symphony No. 2 "America" (2016). Hail the Coming
Concerto for Organ and Orchestra (2013). Phoenix (2007).
WILLIAMS: Excerpts from Star Wars, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's
Stone, Far and Away, Memoirs of Geisha, DracuDracula, Sabrina, The Secret
of the Unknown, Cinderella Liberty, and Sandler's List.
The Seattle Symphony has a fascinating new CD devoted to works by contemporary French composer Marc-Andre Dalbavie. It opens with one of Dalbavie best-known works, La source d'une regard. This is its second recording. The first was released about a decade ago in the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra's Horizon series wit George Benjamin on the podium. This music was commissioned by the Concertgebouw Orchestra and the Philadelphia Orchestra in 2008, and it is a tribute to Olivier Messiaen. The title makes reference to one of Messiaen's best-known works, Vingt eregards sur l'enfant Jesus (Twenty contemplations on the Child Jesus), originally written for piano. It is a study in rich ever-changing sonorities and textures. It is performed to perfection here in this recording made in live in concerts September 2019 in Seattle's Benaroya Hall, St, Mark Taper Auditorium. We also have three unusual concertos. The Oboe Concerto was written in 2009 for Alexei Orgintchouk, principal oboe of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. It has three connected movements, as does the Flute Concerto written in 2006 commissioned by Emanuel Pahud. The Cello Concerto dates from 2013 and is described as, "Concerto in the form of fantasies." This 27-minute work has six sections, each called a "fantasie." All three concertos are virtuoso showpieces, technical demands brilliantly met by Mary Lynch and Demarre McGill, principals of the Seattle Symphony, and Jay Campbell, a major young cello virtuoso who specializes in contemporary works. He has been praised by critics and received many awards. All three soloists produce incredible sounds from their chosen instruments. These are major additions to the concerto catalog. Superb audio throughout. This is a fascinating and welcome addition to the catalog.
A major figure on America's musical scene, Daniel Locklair (b. 1949) was featured on an impressive Naxos CD issued some years ago that contained his Symphony of Seasons (Symphony No. 1), Lairs of Soundings, Phoenix and Again), In Memory—H.H.L., and Concerto for Harp and Orchestra (REVIEW). Now the label has another disk of Locklair's music, all world premiere recordings, containing works listed above. Symphony No 2 was composed 2015-2016. Each of the three movements reflects an American holiday: Independence Day, Memorial Day, and Thanksgiving Day. The music is bright and festive, reminiscent of Copland. Hail the Coming Day was commissioned by the city of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, in honor of the 2013 Centennial Celebration of of the joining of the two cities. This brief (5:31) work is scored for large orchestra and begins with a fanfare; indeed it is a festive piece. Again the spirit of Copland is obvious. The other orchestral work is Phoenix written in 1979 to celebrate the reopening of the gutted Union Theological Seminary in New York .It originally was supposed to be a celebratory three-minue work with antiphonal brass effects, but later Locklair extended its scope. It would have been more effective if it had not been expanded to ten minutes. The final work is a 22 minute three-movement organ concerto. The movements are: Entrata, Canto (to God and dg), and Toccata. It was commissioned 2009/2010 by the Greater Greensboro Chapter of the American Guild of Organists. The composer provides profuse program notes about this music and how he composed it, but the fact remains that it is a rather boring concerto. And it is not helped by the weak sound of the organ used in his recording. The Slovak National Symphony under its two conductors often sounds under-rehearsed, and the recording, made May 2018 in the Bratislava Radio Concert Hall, does not impress sonically.
Anne-Sophie Mutter (b. 1963) has had a fabulous career. Mutter began at the top in 1977 when Herbert von Karajan selected her to perform with the Berlin Philharmonic. Since that time she has concretized extensively and recorded profusely often multiple versions of masterpieces, old and new. This new issue is a showcase for her with several photos in which she looks quite slender and glamorous. About seven years ago, John Williams met e Mutter with her then husband, André Previn, and they decided to collaborate on a group of arrangements of his music for solo violin and orchestra. The arrangements were premiered at a concert in Tanglewood July 2019. Williams has adapted many of his best-known scores for hit movies and these virtuoso arrangement and work well. This recording is issued in two versions; the deluxe version contains several additional works plus the concert piece Markings. DGG rushed to make his recording in Los Angeles with a pickup orchestra. The venue was Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City in April 2019. Mutter's violin always is prominent, and these familiar tunes are presented effusively.
R.E.B. (October 2019)