by: Hobart Taylor
Matt Heimovitz - Overtures to Bach - (Pentatone)
Cellist Heimovitz commissioned six of the most prominent composers of new music, Philip Glass, Du Yun, Vijay Iyer, Roberto Sierra, David Sanford, and Luna Pearl Woolf to write "overtures" or introductions to six of Bach's preludes for solo cello. The preludes are among Bach's most popular and recognizable works, measured, precise, formal and full of dark passions and their juxtaposition with these new pieces which are occasionally atonal, serialistic, but also darkly passionate reaffirms an underlying consistency in translation of the evocative and reflective impulses of Bach. The nearest direct cognate to my mind is Woolf's "Lili'uokalani for Solo Cello Piccolo". Iyer's "Run" is a particularly challenging work technically, and Du Yun's "The Veronica" is the most "organic", full of fur and claws and trampled leaves.
Johann Johannsson - Orphee - (Deutsche Grammophon)
Iceland's Johannsson may be familiar to some as the composer for the scores of the film "Sicario" and "The Theory of Everything" (he is also scoring the upcoming "Blade Runner" sequel). His works are staples in Nordic concert halls, and performed at the L.A. Phil.
In this new release he tackles the myth and journey of Orpheus, through the world, the underworld, his near escape, final submission, and transformation into art.
Using serialism, pastiche, haunting melodic fragments, contrapuntal static, vague radio transmissions, and devolving layers of string ensembles and electronica, this is nonetheless a work romantic and resonant, and deeply anchored in the classical tradition.
Gil Shaham Yolanda Kondonassis Jason Vieaux Orli Shaham Oberlin Orchestra -
Ginastera One Hundred - (Oberlin Conservatory)
Alberto Ginastera was born in 1916 and died in 1983. Along with Villa-Lobos and Piazolla, he represents the first rank of Latin American composers. In Celebration of his life and work the Oberlin College Orchestra assembled stellar soloists to perform with them a harp concerto, a stunning violin and piano duet, "Pampeana No. 1, OP. 16", performed by Gil and Orli Shaham, a sonata for guitar, and his "Danzas Argentinas". The schezro in the "Sonata for Guitar, OP. 47" is exciting and delightful and played with verve and loving attention by Jason Vieaux. The danzas swing under their frenetic or romantic facades.
Jennifer Koh - Tchaikovsky: Complete Works for violin and Orchestra-Odense Symphony Orchestra - (Cedille)
The heart of the recording is the war horse, the "Violin Concerto in D Major,Op. 35". With so many excellent renditions (Hahn, Perlman, Heifitz, Bell etc.) available this sounds a little like a resume builder. Nice but it didn't take me somewhere new. Check out Rachel Barton Pine with the Moscow Symphony Orchestra on youtube. There the tempo is quite elastic, a feature missing in this recording. Still this is a nice addition to our library.