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Glass, Rutter, Francaix: Harpsichord Concertos / Christopher Lewis


Release Date: 09/24/2013 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8573146   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  John RutterJean FrançaixPhilip Glass
Performer:  Christopher D. Lewis
Conductor:  Kevin Mallon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  West Side Chamber Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Length: 1 Hours 7 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews


What a great disc this is: three delightful contemporary works for harpsichord and orchestra, easy on the ear, but clever and consistently interesting. John Rutter’s Suite Antique might be English Poulenc. The tunes are captivating, and the “antique” element needs to be taken with a large grain of salt (the “waltz” is subtitled “A Jazz Waltz”). The writing for flute and strings is immaculate, graceful, and sounds like great fun to play, while the keyboard solo takes excellent advantage of the instrument’s sparkling timbres and ability to delineate rhythmic patterns with gentle persistence. The performance is also terrific, as fine as the composer’s own, with John McMurtery an excellent flute soloist
Read more with a firm, round tone.

Glass’ Harpsichord Concerto also has plenty of arresting harmonies and a wide range of textures. The outer movements chug along with unquenchable vitality, and even touches of humor in the finale, while the central slowish movement makes imaginative play with a variety of melodic shapes. It’s extremely visual: you can almost see the music as it unfolds. Glass takes full advantage of the harpsichord’s natural ability to act both as soloist and accompaniment, with the result that the music’s shifting layers consistently entertain through, and not despite, the usual abundance of repetition.

As for the Françaix, the Concerto begins with two contrasting toccatas, followed by a songful andantino, minuet, and finale. It’s a zesty romp that brings the disc to a wholly winning close. Christopher D. Lewis plays a bright, sweet-toned harpsichord with minimal mechanical clatter. His digital dexterity proves very satisfying, and he’s excellently balanced against the extremely capable West Side Chamber Orchestra under Kevin Mallon. This is one of those discs that you might overlook, but you’d be missing a real treat. I’ve already played it several times just for pleasure, and so will you.

-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

1.
Suite Antique by John Rutter
Performer:  Christopher D. Lewis (Harpsichord)
Conductor:  Kevin Mallon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  West Side Chamber Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1979; England 
2.
Concerto for Harpsichord, Flute and Strings by Jean Françaix
Performer:  Christopher D. Lewis (Harpsichord)
Conductor:  Kevin Mallon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  West Side Chamber Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1959; France 
3.
Concerto for Harpsichord by Philip Glass
Performer:  Christopher D. Lewis (Harpsichord)
Conductor:  Kevin Mallon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  West Side Chamber Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 

Sound Samples

Suite Antique: I. Prelude
Suite Antique: II. Ostinato
Suite Antique: III. Aria
Suite Antique: IV. Waltz
Suite Antique: V. Chanson
Suite Antique: VI. Rondeau
Harpsichord Concerto: I. -
Harpsichord Concerto: II. -
Harpsichord Concerto: III. -
Harpsichord Concerto: I. Toccata I
Harpsichord Concerto: II. Toccata II
Harpsichord Concerto: III. Andantino
Harpsichord Concerto: IV. Menuet
Harpsichord Concerto: V. Finale
So Tango

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