David Stock, Pittsburgh born,
studied trumpet and composition with Nikolai Lopatnikoff
and Alexei Haieff. Stock has had residencies with the orchestras
at Seattle and Pittsburgh. Among much else there is a violin
concerto for Pittsburgh as well as five symphonies and
six string quartets. Manny Theiner's description of Stock's
music as experienced here is pretty adroit: 'well-defined,
with clear shapes, driving rhythms, and bright colors and
A Little Miracle recalls Canadian composer Oscar
Diary of Anne Frank. The story recounted is of the
birth of the 'singer' amid the Polish anti-jewry pogroms
of the Nazis. The work is sung in English but at 4:02
we get a lullaby in Yiddish which recalls operetta sentimentality.
Loosely the style is fixed between the points described
by an arc touching on Barber's Knoxville and Vanessa and
Sondheim's Passion. There is some speech at A
sink a table a chair (7:02) and again at I can
live with a broken heart but I cannot sing with one (8.47)
and Rosa could use that blanket (14:12). It is
mostly in English but there is Hebrew and Yiddish as
well. The couple, Tova and Yaakov, remain in the ghetto.
Yaakov is killed (bursts of side drum impacts) and Tova
and their daughter take refuge with the partisans sustained
by the lullaby from earlier in the piece. Their dangerous
refuge is described by the eerie high harmonics of the
violins. The sole criticism I have is that this recording
is in a single track when it could more digestibly have
been separated into its constituent prologue, epilogue
and six scenes. The piece ends in a miraculously rounded
way with the words A little Miracle.
Yizkor (May He Remember) is a ten
minute elegy for string orchestra. It is ripely emotional
music adapted from the second movement of Stock's Fourth
Quartet. In its searching high-whistling poignancy it recalls
Shostakovich and even Pettersson.
Tekiah is in three movements and is for trumpet
solo and chamber orchestra. The title means 'sounding'.
The word has a specific meaning referring to the playing
of the shofar on Rosh Hashana. Over various Reich-like
minimalist chip, chatter and chug, the trumpet urgently
repeats a cascading note-cell and rolls a coruscation of
virtuosity. The squeal and piping of the trumpet weaves
with the pointillist treatment of the orchestra in another
of those inventive minimalist skeins full of vitality and
propulsive cells. The finale starts with an affectionate
quote from the Haydn trumpet concerto and ends with some
rather Stravinskian buzzing energy and a final blunt trumpet
Y'rusha is the Hebrew for inheritance. It's a piece
for clarinet and an ensemble of seven instruments including
percussion. It's a thing of scraps and shards from raspberry
Klezmer, to Yiddish sentimental theater songs to Weill-like
braggartry to squeaking soliloquies. The work comes over
as an amalgam of elements, a scrapbook of musical signatures
bound by a sometimes avant-garde 'cement'. It's the most
extreme of the pieces represented here.
another fascinating perspective on Jewish music in America.
Will Naxos and the Milken archive really stop when they
reach the fiftieth disc?