DAVID KECHLEY (b.1948): Karasuma: A Fast Funk for Orchestra, Wakeful Visions/Moonless Dreams - A Symphony in Four Movements.
Catalogue Number: 05T070
Description: Kechley writes in an approachable but original idiom firmly grounded in tonality; his models are a variety of mainstream 20th century greats. His peripheral influences are all over the map - literally; time spent in Japan is credited as important to his development (though the audible results are well absorbed and subtle), and he is also adept at integrating traces of other ethnicities and vernacular and outright popular styles into his compositions, though as appropriate to the work at hand; these are very present in some contexts, and missing entirely in others. The substantial four-movement symphony is based on the traditional form, used by the composer as a framework for four contrasting tone-poem movements with widely varied literary inspiration. The fast, powerful opening movement refers to the Old Testament passage about 'reaping the whirlwind', and is appropriately propulsive, rhythmic, and apocalyptic (with repeated hints of the Dies irae). The slow movement is based on a Haiku that describes a gentle undulating seascape. Here there are traces of pentatonic scales amid the warm, full Western harmony. 'Something Wicked' is from the witches' scene in Macbeth; a grotesque scherzo, it abounds in dissonance and striking orchestral, especially percussion, effects (not encountered elsewhere in the piece). The final, unexpected insectoid humming is as unsettling as it is original; a dramatic masterstroke. 'Moments' is a Proustian recollection of past episodes in the piece, in a richly developed counterpoint of ideas, Romantic and nostalgic, with an impressive climax and a haunting coda. Karasuma is a vigorous, rhythmic overture of sorts, with the driving energy and pulse of rock music, big band orchestration, much percussion (including enough cowbell to satisfy THE Bruce Dickinson), but all presented with wonderful incongruity as a classically developed composition. Philharmonia Sudeka.