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John CORIGLIANO (b. 1938)
Symphony No. 2 (2000) [38’28].
Suite from the Film, ‘The Red Violina (1997) [25’00].
aEleonora Turovsky (violin)
I Musici de Montréal/Yuli Turovsky.
Rec. L’Eglise de la Nativité de la Sainte Vierge, La Prairie, Québec 15-17 Sept 2003. DDD



Corigliano’s Symphony No. 2 is remarkably well-served for a recent piece. Not too long ago I considered the excellently-recorded Ondine version of this very work ( ), a disc let down by the preternatural vacuity of the coupling. The symphony’s UK premiere (BBCSO/Slatkin, ) left me rather unmoved.

So here is the Chandos contribution, in vivid sound. And there is no doubt that I Musici de Montréal seem to be going from strength to strength. This re-thinking of the 1996 String Quartet for string orchestra calls on Bartókian quiet (first movement), near-violence juxtaposed with concerto/ripieno contrasts (second movement), an aural picture of Morocco (Nocturne) and the archaic form of Fugue.

The crystal-clear, spacious recording helps raise this above the Ondine account, letting the crystalline textures of the opening tell memorably, and not shirking at all in the explosions of the second movement Scherzo. More, Turovsky paces the work in masterly fashion, a strength nowhere more in evidence than in the emotional heart of the work, the Nocturne (the longest movement, at nine minutes), where control is at a premium. But he is no less gripping in the Fugue, where themes are composed of even beats, with voices travelling at different tempi. It is gripping here, much more so than was the case live with Slatkin; there I found the Fugue, ‘interesting but not wholly involving’.

Corigliano’s score to the excellent film ‘The Red Violin’ revealed the composer’s affinity with this medium; indeed the score was an award-winning success. The Suite (for solo violin, timpani, percussion, harp and strings) works well, too - better, in my estimation, than the Symphony. Of course there is a solo violin part, well delivered by Eleanora Turovsky. There is also a beautifully expressively-played cello solo in the third movement, ‘Death of Anna’, played here by Alain Aubut. Eleanora Turovsky delivers the ‘Gypsy Cadenza’ (the tenth and penultimate movement) with real panache. The highlights, though, are the slow and gorgeous sixth movement (‘Shanghai’) seventh (‘Pope’s Betrayal’), with its huge interruptive percussion thwacks.

This new Chandos version of the Second Symphony now takes pride of place on the Corigliano part of the shelf.

Colin Clarke




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