TIMOTHY KRAMER (b.1959): Symphony B-A-C-H, A Fivescore Festival, Sentinels of the Dance.
Catalogue Number: 06V059
Label: Navona Records
Description: Kramer has a completely approachable style, firmly grounded in tonality; on the strength of the chronology of these pieces it appears that he thought of himself as more of a modernist formerly than in the 21st century. The symphony is a robust, appealingly extrovert four-movement structure in traditional overall layout, though less so in internal processes. Its overriding unifying feature is the ever fertile BACH motif, used throughout. After a slow, dramatic introduction, the first movement is a propulsive allegro, combining the musical monograms of Bach and M.C. Escher, whose endless graphic structures provide impetus for the perpetuum mobile feel of the movement’s energetic progress. The second movement is a lively scherzo which extends the theme into a lithe, agile line, constantly varying in register and orchestration. A very slow, mysterious chorale in which the notes C and B are always present as the monoliths in which they are embedded become increasingly imposing and monumental. The finale is a riotous eruption of energy, not really the'cacophony' that the composer's note oddly characterises it as, but strongly rhythmic and percussion-anchored, with episodes that borrow from Latin Salsa rhythms, funk, and big band jazz (in his early career the composer had a jazz background). The substantial suite A Fivescore Festival (1990) was commissioned by the City of Kent WA in celebration of its Centennial. Four 'preludes', suggesting expansive landscape, industrious building, reflection and noble optimism preface an energetic rondo-finale, syncopated and celebratory. Sentinels was Kramer's first orchestral work, and the most 'modern' here, quite dissonant and percussive, with a mysterious central movement. All in Golden Measure is another occasional piece, for the Jacksonville (IL) Symphony Society. This 2013 work is straightforwardly tonal and most attractive, using two college anthems in a lively, celebratory concert overture. Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra; Jiří Petrdlík.