LEE ACTOR (b.1952): Symphony No. 3, Piano Concerto, Divertimento for Small Orchestra.
Catalogue Number: 02Q009
Label: Navona Records
Description: Attractive, thoroughly approachable tonal works, finely crafted in traditional forms, with ample drama and direct emotional appeal. The concerto, a dramatic virtuoso vehicle in the Romantic mold seems indebted to Shostakovich and Prokofiev, and in Actor's predilection for ostinato-driven propulsive music, Martinu. When his fondness for ostinati goes a little further, Philip Glass seems to be fleetingly invoked. The composer is not averse to the grand romantic gesture; for instance, when the slow movement's uncertain opening finally manages to swell into a real climax, the result is pure Rachmaninov. The sprightly finale's rhythmic buoyancy has a slight flavor of Ravel or Milhaud. and the harmony follows suit with a suggestion of jazz. The symphony's first movement, "Premonition", begins in an atmosphere of foreboding, sounding for all the world like an orchestration of a hitherto unknown Shostakovich quartet. It continues very much in this vein, even after a brief climax ushers in a sense of greater rhythmic urgency. A scurrying, aggressive scherzo, first cousin to the one in Shostakovich 10, follows; then a grand and stately slow movement with something Sibelian about it. This develops a climax in a more martial mood, before returning to the reflective character of the opening, now with an oscillating, Glassian accompaniment. A second scherzo is more playful than the first, Prokofiev-like, then the finale, after a strident opening gesture, strives heroically for a positive outcome to the drama, finally achieving a triumphant conclusion. The Divertimento starts divertingly enough, but along the way develops unexpected emotional depth. Daniel Glover (piano), Slovak National Symphony Orchestra; Kirk Trevor.