WGBH Radio WGBH Radio theclassicalstation.org

Michael Torke - Ecstatic Collection


Release Date: 11/02/2004 
Label:  Ecstatic Records   Catalog #: 92299   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Michael Torke
Performer:  Catherine BottValdine AndersonKurt OllmannJohn Harle,   ... 
Conductor:  David ZinmanMichael TorkeEdo De WaartYoel Levi,   ... 
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Baltimore Symphony OrchestraArgo BandNetherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra,   ... 
Number of Discs: 6 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews



ECSTATIC COLLECTION Michael Torke, David Zinman, Kent Nagano, Alan David Miller, Yoel Levi, Edo de Waart, conds; John Harle (sax); Catherine Bott (sop); Kurt Ollman (bar); Balanescu Qrt; London Sinfonietta; Baltimore SO; Atlanta SO; Philharmonia O; others ECSTATIC 92299 (6 CDs: 343: 27)


TORKE Orchestral, Chamber, and Vocal Works, from 1984–1996


While this set may not be as inclusive or historically essential as “complete” Read more boxes of Stravinsky or John Adams, it is nevertheless significant. Michael Torke, now in his mid-forties, burst onto the new-music scene in the 1980s with what seemed to be a fully integrated compositional voice, drawing its tone from the Minimalists, rock, the orchestral palette of Ravel, neo-Classical Stravinsky, and more, all presented in primary colors and imbued with the brashness of youth. Choreographers immediately snatched him up, and you can hear why: this is music of sheer physical joy. It makes you want to dance, or at least leap in the air from time to time.


Torke was then the contemporary-music Wunderkind discovery; they succeed each other very quickly. Some, like Adams, go on to bigger and deeper things. Judging from his recent ballet score, An Italian Straw Hat (c. 2004, not included in this set), Torke has not expanded his range in the same way. The new ballet seems too eager to please (and definitely achieves that aim), whereas Torke’s early works were eager to impress: a subtle but very real distinction.


In some ways, also, his early work has dated, for this is sound of an era of confidence and optimism, predating the war on terror and the uncertainties of climate change. Compare Torke’s joie de vivre to the harsh realities in Michael Hersch’s symphonies—one of today’s young lions—and the contrast will strike you at once. Fortunately for Torke and others, the late 1980s was a time when big record companies took risks, flush with funds as collectors switched from vinyl to digital. Everything in this collection appeared on the resuscitated Argo label; the set is now reissued on the composer’s own label and is available through his Web site. The list of distinguished names in the headnote tells the rest of the story.


Among the most exciting performances are the orchestral pieces named for various colors ( Ecstatic Orange, Bright Blue Music ), given exuberant treatment by Zinman and the Baltimore SO. The earliest Argo release consisted of short works for chamber orchestra: Adjustable Wrench , featuring a great bass guitar riff, Vanada , etc. These also remain irresistible, and are sprinkled throughout the six discs. The original Yellow Pages (played by the London Sinfonietta under David Alan Miller) is absent, superseded by a 1997 recording from the band Present Music, as part of the complete Telephone Book . Present Music’s performance is lighter on its feet, equally accomplished but not so funky.


Other highlights include the Nyman-like Saxophone Concerto for John Harle, Four Proverbs with Catherine Bott, and the choral Book of Proverbs with its clear echoes of Stravinsky (cf. the Symphony of Psalms and the choral movements of the Cantata on Olde English Texts ). Javelin , written for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, is sharply evocative of the exhilaration of elite sport, and far more attuned to the Olympic spirit than the mawkish anthems we have been served up since.


This set earns its place in the Hall of Fame not merely because it inhabits the Zeitgeist of a particular time and place, but also through its sheer enjoyment factor. Maybe Torke is too bright and brazen to dip into on a daily basis, but if you’re after a musical high with no aftertaste of angst, you should own these discs. This composer was young, upfront, ambitious, gifted, and celebrated. Who wouldn’t want to share some of that?


FANFARE: Phillip Scott
Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Green by Michael Torke
Conductor:  David Zinman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1986; USA 
2.
Purple by Michael Torke
Conductor:  David Zinman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1987; USA 
3.
Ecstatic Orange by Michael Torke
Conductor:  David Zinman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1985/1987; USA 
4.
Ash by Michael Torke
Conductor:  David Zinman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1989; USA 
5.
Bright Blue Music by Michael Torke
Conductor:  David Zinman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1985; USA 
6.
Four Proverbs by Michael Torke
Performer:  Catherine Bott (Soprano)
Conductor:  Michael Torke
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Argo Band
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 
7.
Book of Proverbs by Michael Torke
Performer:  Valdine Anderson (Spoken Vocals), Kurt Ollmann (Spoken Vocals)
Conductor:  Edo De Waart
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra,  Netherlands Radio Chorus
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 
Language: English 
8.
Javelin by Michael Torke
Conductor:  Yoel Levi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1994; USA 
9.
Concerto for Saxophone by Michael Torke
Performer:  John Harle (Saxophone)
Conductor:  David Alan Miller
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Albany Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1993; USA 
10.
December by Michael Torke
Conductor:  Michael Torke
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1995; USA 
11.
Run by Michael Torke
Conductor:  Yoel Levi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1992; USA 
12.
Charcoal by Michael Torke
Conductor:  David Zinman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 
13.
Adjustable Wrench by Michael Torke
Conductor:  Kent Nagano
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Sinfonietta
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1987; USA 
14.
Overnight Mail by Michael Torke
Conductor:  Lothar Zagrosek
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Sinfonietta
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1997; USA 
15.
Monday by Michael Torke
Conductor:  Jurjen Hempel
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Volharding Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 
16.
Tuesday by Michael Torke
Conductor:  Jurjen Hempel
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Volharding Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 
17.
Vanada by Michael Torke
Conductor:  Kent Nagano
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Sinfonietta
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1984; USA 
18.
Flint by Michael Torke
Performer:  Phillip Bush (Piano)
Conductor:  Michael Torke
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Sinfonietta,  Apollo Saxophone Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1995; USA 
19.
Music on the Floor by Michael Torke
Conductor:  Lothar Zagrosek
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Sinfonietta
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1991; USA 
20.
Slate by Michael Torke
Conductor:  Kent Nagano
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Sinfonietta
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1989; USA 
21.
Rust by Michael Torke
Conductor:  David Alan Miller
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Sinfonietta
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1989; USA 
22.
Telephone Book by Michael Torke
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Present Music
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1995; USA 
23.
July by Michael Torke
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Apollo Saxophone Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1995; USA 
24.
Chalk by Michael Torke
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Balanescu Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1991; USA 
25.
Change of Address by Michael Torke
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Michael Torke Band
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1997; USA 

Customer Reviews

Be the first to review this title
Review This Title
Review This Title Share on Facebook




YOU MUST BE A SUBSCRIBER TO LISTEN - TRY IT FREE!
Listen to all your favorite classical music for only $20/month.
Sign up for your monthly subscription service and get unlimited access to the most comprehensive digital catalog of classical music in the world - new releases. bestsellers, advanced releases and more.
Aleady a subscriber? Sign In