THIERRY ESCAICH (b.1965): Psalmos - sinfonia concertante for Orchestra, SEBASTIAN CURRIER (b.1959): FLEX, ZHOU TIAN (b.1981): Concerto for Orchestra.
Catalogue Number: 12S071
Label: CSO Fanfare Cincinnati
Description: These works were commissioned for the 2015-16 season of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra to showcase the orchestra's character and virtuosity. Tian's four-movement work is lushly scored, tonal and neo-romantic. The first movement is full-bloodedly dramatic, leading toward an impressive final climax; the second is a lyrical nocturne; the third a scherzo that scampers about in search of a full statement of its theme; the finale begins with a fugal intermezzo which ushers in a rhythmically driven allegro that hurtles toward a magnificent conclusion. The work abounds in virtuoso solo and exhilarating ensemble writing; the established work in the genre that it most resembles is the Bartók, to which it contains some oblique references. Escaich based his 'sinfonia concertante for orchestra', Psalmos, on familiar chorale melodies used by Bach, treated very freely and subjected to an intense dramaturgy of conflict and triumph. After a brief introduction the first movement is a headlong treatment of fragments of Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland in stabbing interjections over a motoric accompaniment. The second movement sets up a dramatic confrontation between ethereal chorale textures and disruptive, declamatory interruptions, like hecklers attempting to disrupt a solemn sermon. Increasingly powerful statements of two chorales develop a powerful climax, finally triumphant over adversity. An impassioned cello soliloquy leads to the third movement, a vivacious scherzo full of lively, syncopated rhythms, leading to massive statements of Nun komm and Ein feste Burg. The finale opens with exultant fanfares based on Ein feste Burg and develops into a raucously energetic celebration full of exhilarating energy. Currier's six-movement piece is very accessible and tonal, and one of this immensely versatile composer's most instantly appealing and crowd-pleasing large-scale works. The second movement, 'Fifteen Versions of the Same Phrase' is exactly that, and qualifies as a complete miniature 'young person's guide to the orchestra. The first movement introduces the instrumental families over a propulsive accompaniment; the third puts little phrases through a series of 'micro-variations' in various styles; the fourth explores earlier forms and contrapuntal techniques. The fifth is an extended slow movement contrasting reflective solos and sonorous tutti, and the finale brings the whole orchestra together in a rhythmically lively parade toward an emphatic conclusion. 2 CDs. Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra; Louis Langrée.