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Robb: Piano Concerto; Boyadjian: Second Symphony / Oberg

Release Date: 02/25/2003 
Label:  Opus One   Catalog #: 187   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  John Donald RobbHayg Boyadjian
Performer:  Tatiana Vetrinskaya
Conductor:  David Oberg
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra Katowice
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 50 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

ROBB Piano Concerto. 1 BOYADJIAN Symphony No. 2 ? David Oberg, cond; Tatiana Vetrinskaya (pn); 1 Natl Polish RSO ? OPUS ONE CD 187 (50:25)

In the last Fanfare , I reviewed a batch of discs from the small Opus One company, and now comes one more which trumps many of the others in Read more terms of interest and quality. The music of John Donald Robb featured prominently among those previous issues. Here we have his Piano Concerto, composed in 1950 and premiered two years later by no less a pianist than Andor Foldes. The work is in three movements, all of which use traditional songs from New Mexico as the basis of their thematic material. Robb unearthed these melodies on a series of field trips, à la Bartók. It is Bartók and Prokofiev who are most clearly recalled in the virtuoso piano part?dazzlingly played in this performance by Tatiana Vetrinskaya. Robb gives these simple tunes a sophisticated treatment and the result is a playful, lively work. I especially enjoyed the rollicking third movement in triple time (or at least the opening is). If you respond to such 20th-century piano concertos as those by Samuel Barber, Alexander Tcherepnin, or Camargo Guarnieri, you will find Robb?s concerto also deserves a place on your shelves.

Hayg Boyadjian is a composer with a strong interest in astronomy. (A previous Opus One issue contained a work of his which specifically depicted heavenly bodies, Scorpius Rising .) His two-movement Second Symphony is built entirely on two motives heard right at the beginning; the composer?s booklet notes go into some technical detail about how these themes are developed. The result, however, does not come across as highly structured. Rather, to extend the astronomic metaphor, thematic figures and textures tend to drift in and out of view, floating about in a vast space. Like a scientist with a telescope, Boyadjian focuses on these phenomena, bringing them into sharp relief before they fade away to be replaced by some other vision. The fact that these episodes are of the same matter (thematically speaking) seems secondary to the randomness of their appearance. I hope I am not doing the composer a disservice to describe his symphony in this way. I do not mean it negatively: the journey is a convincing and engrossing one. The final section of the work ends quietly, with musical incident becoming ever more sparse, until it simply stops. To be even more fanciful, it is as though our astronomer puts aside his telescope, thinking ?Well, there?s nothing more to be seen tonight.?

The National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra and conductor David Oberg have been recording regularly for some years and have developed a considerable rapport. This is their finest work yet. Sound is very good, too. Don?t be put off by Opus One?s paper cover and haphazard notes (or the fluorescent green paper they use for parts of the booklet): this is as fine an issue of interesting, out-of-the-way music as you would find anywhere.

FANFARE: Phillip Scott
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Works on This Recording

Concerto for Piano by John Donald Robb
Performer:  Tatiana Vetrinskaya (Piano)
Conductor:  David Oberg
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra Katowice
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1950; USA 
Symphony no 2 by Hayg Boyadjian
Conductor:  David Oberg
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra Katowice
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2000; USA 

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