This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.
Notes and Editorial Reviews
VAN DE VATE Chernobyl.1 Harp Concerto.2 Nemo: Concert Suite3 • Toshiyuki Shimada, cond; Adriana Antalova (hp);2 Janá?ek Op Soloists;3 Yale SO;1 Moravian P2, 3 • VIENNA MODERN MASTERS 3059 (71:28 Text and Translation)
This excellent new compendium of three of Nancy Van de Vate’s most musically interesting works is bound by the fine conducting of Toshiyuki Shimada, music director of the Yale Symphony and music director laureate of the Portland (Maine) Symphony. Shimada has a fine pedigree, having studied with Leonard Bernstein, Herbert von Karajan, Herbert Blomstedt, Hans Swarovsky, and Michael Tilson Thomas, and his work here is musical and committed, building fine tension and giving a forward momentum to even the most
Those familiar with Van de Vate’s music need not be told that Chernobyl (1986), though tied to a now-dated historical event, is one of her finest works. Somehow, she seems to have said so very much in a mere 12 minutes. She not only captures the slow yet ominous buildup towards disaster, starting with a pedal point in G?, but also manages to take the listener through the black energy of the event itself to moments of calm and resolution. Her harmonic language, built as it is upon close seconds and uneasy fourths, is varied by her incredible command of orchestral color, of her lifelong love and understanding of both percussion and strings, and her even greater commitment to music that is expressive and not merely functional. One can listen to a work like the Penderecki Dies irae, for instance, and feel nothing, but it is impossible to listen to a Van de Vate work in which she has so obviously poured so much of herself and not come away emotionally changed (and charged).
By contrast, the Harp Concerto is a buoyant, happy work, based on bitonal harmonies, yet never far removed from a lovely, singing line. Here the orchestra is reduced to strings so as not to interfere sonically with the light qualities of the harp, and interest is built as much through contrasting tempos within the movements as it is by thematic development. Van de Vate later rescored this work as a Divertimento for Harp and String Quintet that, in my humble opinion, works even more magically, but the music is of such a high quality—not to mention charming without being sentimental—that interest is sustained throughout. Harpist Antalova gives an excellent performance here, though I feel that in this orchestral version her rhythmic downward scale passages are not quite as telling as they are in the chamber version.
For those unfamiliar with Van de Vate’s opera Nemo, this music will come as a surprise. It is seldom consciously powerful or aggressive, yet the pungent harmonic texture and superb sense of rhythm that ties it to the lyrics create an underlying tension even in the most pastoral sections. This particular suite, running 45:46, is actually culled from the tapes of the complete opera as issued on VMM 4002 and is a little less than half the opera’s length. Its neo-Classic style suits the general plot line well, and the remainder of the opera’s music is equally impressive, but if your reaction to the libretto was like mine—that it is somewhat immature in expression—I’m sure you will be quite happy to remain with this concert suite. Van de Vate has also reworked some of Nemo’s music into a mini-opera scene for children, who respond to the libretto more easily.
Recommended, particularly for those unfamiliar with Van de Vate’s mastery over a variety of forms and styles, as well as for Mr. Shimada’s conducting. Both composer and conductor are very lucky to have each other in artistic collaboration.
-- Lynn René Bayley, Fanfare [3/2008]
Works on This Recording
Chernobyl by Nancy Van De Vate
Yale Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1987; USA
Concerto for Harp by Nancy Van De Vate
Adriana Antalova (Harp)
Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century
Nemo: Suite by Nancy Van De Vate
Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra,
Janacek Opera Soloists
Period: 20th Century
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