HOWARD SHORE (b.1946): Ruin and Memory for Piano and Orchestra (Lang Lang [piano], China Philharmonic Orchestra; Long Yu), Mythic Gardens for Cello and Orchestra (Sophie Shao [cello], 21st Century Chamber Orchestra; Ludwig Wicki).
Catalogue Number: 04S068
Label: Sony Classical
Description: You know what to expect from Shore by now; Hollywood hyper-romanticism writ large and expertly crafted, and that is exactly what you get here. The piano concerto was expressly written as a tribute to Chopin, and contains some Chopinesque gestures, though it is as likely to call to mind Saint-Saëns or Rachmaninov; at the end of the day it sounds like Howard Shore writing a big, bold, technicolor neo-romantic piano concerto with all the flair of an expert film composer. The title, too, suggests this kind of film-romantic, heart-on-sleeve approach to Chopin's life, times and work. Mythic Gardens is similarly a lush, neo-romantic cello converto, though this time with no specific model. Nature and landscape have long been important to Shore - he credits this for elements of his success in capturing the sweeping landscape in his scores for Peter Jackson's Tolkien films. This concerto was inspired by the architecture of three classic Italian gardens; Cimbrone, Medici and Visconti Borromeo Litta. Italianate gestures of the Baroque abound in this rich, warm, sun-drenched music, while the harmonic language and orchestral textures are firmly those of the Romantic era of Dvorák, Tchaikovsky et al. Both concerti are virtuoso vehicles with the soloist decidedly center-stage and provided plenty of bravura material to work with.