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Jon LORD (b. 1941)
Boom of the Tingling Strings - for Piano and Orchestra (2002) [36:36]
Disguises – Suite for Strings (2003) [35:38]
Nelson Goerner (piano)
Odense Symfoniorkester/Paul Mann
rec. 11-15 December 2006, Carl Nielsen Hall, Odense, Denmark. DDD
EMI CLASSICS 3905282 [72:14]
Experience Classicsonline

This disc follows hot on the heels of the stir created by the Avie recording of the Durham Concerto. It’s not short on generosity either, with the two works each exceeding 35 minutes; some measure of Lord’s ambition too. Lord tells us in his straightforward liner-notes that he began writing orchestral music in 1969 but it is clear that he has been careful to allow things to mature steadily and marshal his creativity.
The ‘piano concerto’ (not so-called), Boom of the Tingling Strings derives its title and its inspiration from a poem ‘The Piano’ by D.H. Lawrence. The childhood images of the mother and the piano were the same as those remembered from Lord’s childhood. It is in four movements which range far and wide in style. From foreboding and avant-garde rumblings it melts into a light-suffused metropolitan jazz filtered through Copland. The piano coruscates and sidles, smiles, saunters and plays. The third movement, an extended adagio, is sweetly and cradlingly nostalgic – full of soft light. The finale is an allegro giusto which ripples along brightly – related crudely to Bernstein and Gershwin. While this has a reflective side it is a different work in mood-set from the Durham Concerto. It is more outgoing and ebullient and in its last throes has learnt a lesson or two from Arnold’s Concerto for Phyllis and Cyril.
Speaking of Arnold we come to the three movement Disguises for string orchestra which is dedicated to Arnold, his collaborator in celebrity projects in the early 1970s. The many facets of Arnold are clearly reflected in the first movement which is serious, hesitant and light on its feet. Arnold's style is touched on several times including and unmistakably at 3:12 but there are other references too. Music for Miriam is the central adagio based on a little six note theme left to Lord by his mother. It’s tenderly done by the leader of the orchestra against a trembling backdrop (II, 00.45) and developed in a Lark Ascending style recalling parts of the first movement of the Durham Concerto. The finale is joyous, drawing without plagiarism on the same palette as Tippett’s Concerto for Double String Orchestra but with more acidic infusions from Shostakovich and echoes of Dag Wirén’s Serenade. Disguises can take its place without shame in the English string music heritage. The final shiver and shimmer is blisteringly exciting and ends in a satisfying shudder of the gears.
Rob Barnett


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