BERNARD HOFFER (b.1934): Violin Concerto (Elmar Oliveira [violin]), Piano Concerto (Randall Hodgkinson [piano]), English Horn Concerto (Thomas Stacy [cor anglé]).
Catalogue Number: 06Q079
Description: Hoffer is a Swiss composer newly resident in the U.S. The Violin Concerto is a traditional three-movement structure, a boldly neo-romantic virtuoso vehicle. The first movement consists of extrovert dialogues between soloist and orchestra, with subtle jazz influences in harmony and rhythm, which nowhere rise to the level of genre-crossing. The slow movement is a melodic aria, presented simply, then increasingly elaborated. The finale is a scherzo in rondo form, its principal material a boisterous jig-like theme. Towards the end, a stronger jazz influence suddenly emerges; that of Stan Kenton's unusual big-band derived textures, which bring the piece to a resounding close. The first movement of the Piano Concerto is a darkness to light journey, beginning with mysterious and sinister mutterings, suddenly illuminated by daylight brilliance in a much more definite tonality, leading to episodes of great melodic and harmonic beauty featuring soloists within the orchestra. The slow movement is a delicate pastorale inspired by Thoreau, based on a kind of chorale presented at the outset, with inventive imitative nature sounds. The finale is an energetic toccata which suddenly breaks into a grandiose ragtime statement which then competes with the rather brittle, note-row based but neo-romantically garbed toccata material until the riotous conclusion. The four-movement english horn concerto is a very neo-romantic work, with a plaintively pastoral first movement which accumulates energy and power and then subsides. As in the other concerti, some jazz gestures also put in an appearance. The second movement is a solemn elegy in memory of the composer's father, melodic and richly harmonized (and which contains some brief excursions into multiphonics and quarter-tones), at first sorrowful then powerfully tragic. A sprightly, insouciant, jazzy scherzo-and-trio follows, then an exhilaratingly energetic finale conveying the idea of a high speed, occasionally risky, downhill race on skis. RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra; Richard Pittman.