CLAUDE BAKER (b.1948): Piano Concerto “From Noon to Starry Night” (Marc-André Hamelin [piano]), Gilbert Varga [conductor]), Aus Schwanengesang (Juanjo Mena [conductor]).
Catalogue Number: 11T057
Description: As in his The Glass Bead Game (10O084), in this concerto Baker delights in playing his own game of allusions, references, cross-references and parallel and intersecting musical and extramusical ideas. The work seeks to illuminate and effloresce out of five poems by Walt Whitman, exploring the structure of ideas within the poems and expanding on implied associations by incorporating a network of familiar compositions by other composers, that expand and amplify themes in Whitman's poetry. This borrowed material is transcribed and transformed, thematic synchronicities are exploited, and the piano participates in or comments on the proceedings. Due to the familiarity and idioms of the borrowed material - by Ives, Strauss, Mahler and Messiaen among others - the overall impression of the work is accessible and rather tonal. As an example of how this works, the third movement 'Warble for Lilac-time' begins by quoting Strauss/Heine's Frühling, but, as Whitman's poem is part of 'Autumn Rivulets', and Strauss' songs were his autumnal farewell, the metamorphosis into Mahler's Der Einsame im Herbst works perfectly. Aus Schwanengesang is a memorial piece, and follows similar processes in recomposing the Heine lieder from Schubert's cycle in conjunction with related themes from other works by Schubert, Liszt's transcription of Schubert, Beethoven and Mahler, the whole embedded in a matrix of Baker's own contemporary style. Indianapolis Syphony Orchestra.