Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


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American Contrasts
Benjamin LEES (b.1924)

Passacaglia for Orchestra (1976) [11.37]
Vincent PERSICHETTI (1915-1987)

Symphony No. 4 (1942) [26.02]
Michael DAUGHERTY (b.1954)

Philadelphia Stories for Orchestra:
(1) Sundown on South Street (2000) [7.26]
(2) Hell's Angels* (2000) [16.20]
Bassoon Brothers *
Oregon Symphony Orchestra/James DePreist
rec. 2000. DDD
DELOS DE 3291 [61.24]

Lees' Passaglia is a compact work. At just over 11 minutes it is about the length of a standard concert overture. It has more gravitas than the conventional opener. Lees states the theme deep in the bass and then has the orchestra elaborate either lugubrious or with murderous sincerity. The groundswell of the bass theme remains a constant. The music has a Bach-like weightiness of expression. There is nothing of obvious brilliance. If anything this music has parallels with Rubbra and certain Bliss works including the John Blow Meditations.

In the 1940s Vincent Persichetti proved musically receptive to a slew of influences. Bartók appears time and again. Listen to the repeated tributes to Concerto for Orchestra. Bartók is not alone. We can also hear Copland and Roy Harris. The stabbing pungent brass and percussion figures in parts of the third movement point towards Schuman. We are left in no doubt that DePreist has a virtuoso orchestra at his bidding.

The Iowan composer, Michael Daugherty will be fifty next year, no longer the young lion. His credentials are salty and provocative, a student of computer music with Boulez at IRCAM in Paris, of jazz with Gil Evans and with Ligeti in Hamburg. With such forebears you might have expected his two pieces to be avant-garderie of the plink-plunk school. Nothing of the sort. The Sundown piece is an attractive amalgam of commercial music, latino high stepping, big city jazz, cinema grandeur and serenity. The infusions of popular culture are well resolved into the texture with the two guitar interventions masterfully done. This made me think of Eshpai's ballet The Circle (Albany).

The Hell's Angels piece is a concerto for three bassoons, contrabassoon and orchestra. It was commissioned by the Philharmonia. It starts with the threatening and dissolute sounds of a Hell's Angels' gang and burbles its way through. As this piece progresses you become increasingly aware of two facets of the Daugherty 'signature': lucid orchestration that strips back from grand effect to microcosmic fantasy, delicate romantic facility and grand rumba shindigs like those in Malcolm Arnold's Fourth and Sixth Symphonies.

Rob Barnett


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