MATEJ MEŠTROVIĆ (b.1969): Works for Piano and Orchestra - Danube Rhapsody, Chinese Rhapsody, New England Rhapsody.
Catalogue Number: 04U061
Label: Navona Records
Description: Three thoroughly enjoyable, entirely tonal, concertante works on the lighter side. The Danube Rhapsody, reflecting the composer's Croatian heritage, is the most ambitious, largest and arguably most successful work here. The piece abounds in catchy rhythms and melodies characteristic of the Eastern European countries through which the river passes. The first movement might justifiably, if a little unkindly, be described as 'Smetana lite'; the second is a sequence of rustic dances, and the third a gently reflective, languid slow movement. The energetic finale uses characteristic lopsided rhythms and modally inflected melodies, and these along with Meštrović's use of traditional Croatian instruments - a hammered dulcimer like a cimbalom, a long-necked lute, a fife and an accordion - place the music firmly in the Balkans. The Chinese Rhapsody is in two parts; the first showcases various Chinese instruments in melodies inspired by traditional Chinese ones, against a thrumming orchestral accompaniment, while the latter part of the work attempts some movie-score chinoiserie, which while enjoyable may strike some as clichéd. New England Rhapsody is a breezy piece of faux-Americana which mostly seems only to have a tenuous connection to New England (at one point it sounds as though it has a closer one to Andrew Lloyd Webber). The slow movement was recycled from an early work, and sounds like a teenage composer who really liked Rachmaninov and Mozart slow movements trying to write one of his own, which is pretty much what its provenance is. Flight over North Hampton (Where? The little town in New Hampshire? It sounds more like 'flight over Zagreb' anyway) brings the Rhapsody to a rousing conclusion. Matej Meštrović (piano), Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra; Miran Vaupotić.