MICHAEL S. CUNNINGHAM (b.1937): 9 Silhouettes, Op. 255, Symphonette, Op. 200, Bach Diadem, Op. 283 (Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra; Petr Vronský), Clarinet Concerto (Bruno Philipp [clarinet], Croatian Chamber Orchestra; Miran Vaupotić).
Catalogue Number: 10U060
Label: Navona Records
Description: A nicely varied selection of attractive, tonal works from the veteran composer (Bach Diadem is his Op. 283, so he clearly hasn't been compositionally idle during his many decades in academia). His titles tell you a lot. The Silhouettes are nine brief character pieces, lively and colorfully orchestrated, which set up a mood - various dances, a march, nods to other composers - and leave it at that, so that the listener can supply his or her own programme. The concerto's argument rests firmly with the soloist, the orchestra providing rather austere, economical material. If the first movement isn't quite the wild Bacchanal suggested by the title, 'Dithyramb', the clarinet's part is extrovert and florid. The slow movement is suave and lyrical, and the last, satirical and raucous. The Symphonette - somehow the title suggests its playful divertimento-like character better than 'Sinfonietta' would - is cheerful from its Beethoven-quoting opening to its suggestion of Prokofiev's 'Classical' symphony in the finale. Bach Diadem pays tribute in the form of three inventive transcriptions of familiar but little-arranged (if at all) works, for full Romantic orchestra, lavishly used in the tradition of Respighi, Elgar and Stokowski.