This is an enjoyable
disc that seems to set out fairly and
squarely to entertain rather than provoke.
All the music is safely tonal, with
the spirit of the dance being the unifying
factor. Of course, this does mean that
a lot of what is on offer invites comparison
with great names of the past, and there
is no doubt that the ghosts of Stravinsky,
Bartók and Ravel (among others)
linger over many passages.
But there is much to
savour. My own favourite is the Kilar
symphonic poem Krzesany,
seemingly inspired by mountain scenery
and taking a while before anything dance-related
makes itself known. Indeed, the great
cries of anguish from the strings at
4’15 had me thinking more about his
compatriot Penderecki than anyone, though
the presto furioso at 7’08 has
a raw, barbarous quality that could
be one of Bartók’s peasant orgies.
The equally folksy ‘knees-up’ coda leads
to a riotous ending that brings a smile
to the face. This is not the first recording
– there is an impressive all-Kilar disc
on Naxos that includes this work, but
this Singapore performance has a great
sense of character and fun.
Waltzes emerges as a sort of
La Valse for our own times (there
is a near quote at 11’02) complete with
the menacing undercurrent beneath the
surface gloss. It is very skilfully
orchestrated, though doesn’t quite maintain
interest over its 14-minute span as
much as one would like.
Chen Yi’s Duo
Ye has many echoes of Stravinsky,
particularly Song of the Nightingale,
and I admired it most when I felt her
own voice was emerging, as in the limpid,
exotic textures that appear around 5’45.
Marquez’s Danzon No.2
(part of a set of four) is engagingly
direct in its Latin-American rhythms,
toe-tappingly infectious and justly
popular in the concert halls of America.
MacCrombie’s Chelsea Tango
follows on nicely, a sort of hommage
to Latin-Americana but with a slightly
grittier, urban edge. Again, skilful
orchestration clothes the witty but
thin material, giving the piece a breezily
None of the works are
earth-shatteringly original, but all
are performed with vigour and character
by the Singapore Symphony, and given
the usual excellent BIS sound. It makes
a modern counterpart to the ‘orchestral
lollipops’, or ‘concert-hall encores’
discs we all used to love, and is equally
enjoyable on those terms.