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  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

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Benjamin LEES (b.1924)
Horn Concerto (1991) [24.12]
Leonardo BALADA (b.1933)

Music for Oboe and Orchestra: Lament from the Cradle of the Earth (1993) [20.42]
Ellen Taaffe ZWILICH (b.1939)

Bassoon Concerto (1993) [16.54]
William Caballero (horn)
Cynthia Koledo DeAlmeida (oboe)
Nancy Goeres (bassoon)
Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra/Lorin Maazel
rec. 10-12 May 1996, Heinz Hall for the Performing Arts, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
NEW WORLD RECORDS 80503-2 [61.48]


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Three works for solo instruments and orchestra and all dating from the first half of the 1990s.

Lees' style in the Horn Concerto is becoming more familiar to me. Loosely speaking he touches on late Vaughan Williams with other elements from the ‘softer end’ - from Randall Thompson and at the more ‘scarifying end’ from William Schuman. He is certainly not 'difficult' and he never veers far from tonality. During the long cadenza the natural tones of the horn reminds the listener of Britten's Serenade. William Caballero is fully equal to the demands of the score which include the sunny chiming directness and evolving nobility of the 'calmly' middle movement. The aggressive writing of the finale reminds me of Herrmann's On Dangerous Ground and North by North-West. Lees solves the finale problem with a very satisfying sign-off.

The single movement Balada piece is more exotic with the instrument chanting with its piping; sometimes sweet and sometimes caustically penetrating sound. Fury is not absent as you can hear at 7.05 and 12.20. At 15.20 the composer seems to confide in us glimpses of chaos and of Breughel’s ‘Garden of Earthly Delights’. There is an easy singing at 8.40 rising like a variant of the start of Beethoven 5. At 13.58 there is a sweetly chanting Chinese effect pizzicato. Very much a fantasy concertstück. The Zwilich concerto goes with the grain of the bassoon’s oakily singing soul. with spitting thundering percussion and much quirky variety along the way.

Incidentally what quirk of marketing prompts the instruction on the casing to file under Classical/Zwilich rather than Classical/Lees.

Good notes as usual from New World and high end acoustics. Nothing here seems at all humdrum; no doubt each work was recorded in the wake of concert performances which usually helps. The soloists are easily a match for the many dimensions of each work.

The Lees is one of the finest Horn Concertos I have heard. Seek out this disc and I doubt you will be at all disappointed.

Rob Barnett

 



Gerard Hoffnung CDs

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Musicweb sells the following labels
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Nimbus
Northern Flowers
Redcliffe
Sheva
Talent
Toccata Classics


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