OLIVER DAVIS (b.1972): The Infinite Ocean for Violin and Orchestra (Benjamin Baker [violin]), Gemini for Violin and Strings, Inferno for Violin and Orchestra, Suite for Piano and Orchestra, The Elements for Recorder, Tuba, Piano, Violin and Viola (The Hanke Brothers), Arcadia for Solo Piano.
Catalogue Number: 10V057
Description: Another entry in this appealing series (see also 02T072 et al.), showcasing Davis' delightfully attractive works. His idiom is a cross between the area where the neo-Baroque intersects with the lively pulse of American Romantic minimalism, and the catchiest end of the film industry's idea of neo-Romanticism (not coincidentally, he is a successful composer for film and TV). He effortlessly combines the vivacity of Vivaldi with the melodic charm and satisfying harmonies of Schubert, with a tinge here and there of the instant appeal of folk music. The Infinite Ocean is a ballet in six sections. Neither here nor anywhere else should one look for anything portentous, cataclysmic, or suggesting angst-ridden Sturm und Drang; even at its stormiest (the third movement) and most impressive (the ostinato-driven finale), this is not a threatening sea but one from a beautifully produced nature documentary. These nature scenes recall Anno, Davis' pitch-perfect foil to Vivaldi's Four Seasons. Even Inferno is fun rather than dangerous; a sort of humorous send-up of a ballet number by Khachaturian or Bernstein. The Elements, for an unusual instrumental combination, combines minimalist energy with a suggestion of folk fiddling, as does the fast second movement of Gemini. The Suite is really a miniature Piano Concertino in three movements, with a sparkling first movement, a bit of movie-Rachmaninov for the second, and a playful finale. Kerenza Peacock (violin), Huw Watkins (piano), Royal Philharmonic Orchestra; Paul Bateman.