JAMES MATHESON (b.1970): Violin Concerto (Baird Dodge [violin], Chicago Symphony Orchestra; Esa-Pekka Salonen), Color Field Quartet (Dodge, Gina Dibello [violins], Weijing Wang [viola], Yi Xin [cello]), Times Alone for Soprano and Piano (Laura Strickling [soprano], Thomas Sauer [piano]).
Catalogue Number: 09S011
Label: Yarlung Records
Reference: YAR 25670
Description: Matheson has an approachable, neo-romantic style with a post-minimalist fondness for obsessively repeating, propulsive patterns. The three-movement violin concerto begins with an energetically swirling 'Caprice' in busy, arpeggiated patterns passed back and forth between soloist and orchestra. The slow movement, 'Chaconne' is avowedly influenced by the slow movement of Mahler's 6th; a sustained, emotionally intense paean to love, passion and regret, viewed from the painful perspective of distance, the lonely clear air of the mountain-top. The hyperactive finale bursts in without a break, a scurrying whirlwind inspired by Paganini and Appalachian folk-fiddling. The quartet is a substantial work, again in three movements with a motoric post-minimalist first movement, a static, meditative slow movement with echoes of Pärt's 'tintinnabulary' textures which blossoms into a full-blooded neo-romantic outpouring of emotion, reminiscent of the 'Mahlerian' central movement of the concerto, and an urgent, agitated perpetuum mobile finale. The song cycle sets strange, sad poems full of surreal imagery by Antonio Machado in English translation by Robert Bly, in soaring vocal lines with accompaniments that alternate motoric urgency and static chordal calm. Texts included.