Classical CD Reviews
“Divergence” – Modern Concerti for Strings – Soloists/ Warsaw Nat. Philharmonic – Navona
Published on November 25, 2011
“Divergence” – Modern Concerti for Strings = SACKMAN: Concertino for Violin and Orchestra; MICHAL: Encomiums; McKINLEY: Concert Variations – Ondrej, violinist /Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra/Micka (in the Sackman); Vit Muzik, violinist/ Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra/Vronsky (in the Michal); Glenn Dicterow, violinist/ Karen Dreyfus, viola /Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra/St. Clair (in the McKinley) – Navona Records NV5858, 52:01 [Distr. by Naxos] ****:
William Thomas McKinley (b.1938) is a classical and jazz pianist, who studied composition with Copland, Foss and Schuller. At age 12, he became the youngest member of the American Federation of Musicians. He’s composed over 350 works, received eight NEA grants, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and founded MMC Recordings. Concert Variations for violin and viola is a twentieth century fantasy on a Lamento theme written in the style of Mozart. Mckinley shows his compositional chops in these variations, alternating fast with slow tempi. Dicterow and Dreyfus play beautifully, but there is little here to interest the experienced twentieth century listener. This is a reissue of an earlier album entitled, The Music of Mozart and McKinley.
Nicholas Sackman (b.1950) is an English composer who has studied with Alexander Goehr and teaches composition, electronics and sound recording at University of Nottingham. The Concertino for Violin and Orchestra combines elements of rhythmic spikiness and jazzy-cool humor in its 10+ minute length. Sackman effectively integrates percussion and strings into an entertaining and challenging mix that echoes the music Stravinsky and Bartok.
Scott Michal is a cellist and teacher who has played with the Columbus Symphony for 13 years and been composer in residence at the Ann Carson Dator Performing Arts Center. Encomium, in 24+ minutes, pays honor to three composers: Hindemith, Bach and Prokofiev, each in one movement. Hindemith reminds me of the lyricism of that composer’s Violin Concerto. Bach’s orchestration replicates one of the master’s chorales, but the music is romantic. Prokofiev is a jaunty dance of sardonic wit, in the style of the composer’s Romeo and Juliet. All three are unabashedly tonal, and entertaining.
Performances and sound are excellent. The music on this disc is entertaining and readily accessible, but there’s not much here that represents a unique musical language that adds to the incredible diversity and creativity of music of our times.