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American Orchestral Works - Kolb, Corigliano, Etc / Kalmar


Release Date: 06/27/2006 
Label:  Cedille Records   Catalog #: 90   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Barbara KolbAaron Jay KernisMichael HerschJohn Corigliano,   ... 
Conductor:  Carlos Kalmar
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Grant Park Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 16 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

As I have noted in connection with other collections of contemporary music, the problem with programs such as this is that they tend to consist of hits and misses--that is, works of unequal quality or composed in styles that won't appeal similarly to most listeners. This release is an exception, in that each piece is well worth getting to know, and even if you don't like everything, chances are you'll come away satisfied. Barbara Kolb's All in Good Time is a rhythmic study almost devoid of melody, but it's harmonically interesting and brilliantly scored. It makes a fun, bubbly curtain-raiser. Aaron Jay Kernis' Sarabande in Memoriam began life as a string quartet and was enlarged for string orchestra as yet another post-9/11 tribute. Read more Happily, however, the work predates that tragic day by several years, and so neither Kernis' sincerity nor his taste are in question. It's a beautiful work given a grave, intense performance under Carlos Kalmar's sympathetic baton.


Michael Hersch's Ashes of Memory is my favorite work on the disc. It has memorable tunes (its two movements are related), really solid symphonic scoring with impressive, powerful climaxes that at the same time never sound as if they're straining for effect, and an impressively dark, quietly gripping conclusion. The title doesn't exactly help in any meaningful way, but hey, who cares? It's terrific stuff. John Corigliano's Midsummer Fanfare, composed for the Grant Park Orchestra in 2004, presents all of its composer's sonic brilliance and skillful use of avant-garde effects in a way that beguiles rather than offends the ear. Once again, the performance is first rate, no doubt helped by the players' familiarity with the work. So many modern music collections are simply sight-reading exercises, and it shows.


Many listeners will consider John Harbison's Partita for Orchestra to be the program's major work. I have to confess, I don't especially like Harbison's music. I find its dissonant, quasi-tonal style monochromatic, like a study in grey. He often reminds me of an updated William Schuman: a composer with a strong sense of gesture but lacking in thematic memorability. That said, I enjoyed the Partita much more than previous experience suggested I would. It has great variety among its movements, some genuinely memorable ideas, and that rarest of qualities, a discernible sense of humor. I think it's one of the finest things Harbison has done, though only here does the orchestra, especially the strings in the rhythmically tricky final Courante-Gigue, sound a touch stressed. In sum, this collection (as so often with this label) works very well as a diverse program very well-suited to continuous listening, and the engineering is about as good as it gets. Terrific! [7/25/2006]
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

1. All in Good Time by Barbara Kolb
Conductor:  Carlos Kalmar
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Grant Park Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1994; USA 
Venue:  Live  Harris Theater, Millennium Park, Chicago 
Length: 10 Minutes 36 Secs. 
Notes: Harris Theater, Millennium Park, Chicago, IL (07/01/2004 - 07/02/2004) 
2. Sarabanda in Memoriam by Aaron Jay Kernis
Conductor:  Carlos Kalmar
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Grant Park Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1997 arr. 2003; USA 
Venue:  Live Harris Theater, Millennium Park, C 
Length: 17 Minutes 34 Secs. 
3. Ashes of Memory by Michael Hersch
Conductor:  Carlos Kalmar
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Grant Park Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1999; USA 
Venue:  Live  Harris Theater, Millennium Park, Chicago 
Length: 19 Minutes 29 Secs. 
Notes: Harris Theater, Millennium Park, Chicago, IL (07/01/2004 - 07/02/2004) 
4. Midsummer Fanfare by John Corigliano
Conductor:  Carlos Kalmar
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Grant Park Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2004; USA 
Venue:  Live  Harris Theater, Millennium Park, Chicago 
Length: 5 Minutes 49 Secs. 
Notes: Harris Theater, Millennium Park, Chicago, IL (07/01/2005 - 07/02/2005) 
5. Partita for Orchestra by John Harbison
Conductor:  Carlos Kalmar
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Grant Park Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2001; USA 
Venue:  Live  Harris Theater, Millennium Park, Chicago 
Length: 22 Minutes 0 Secs. 
Notes: Harris Theater, Millennium Park, Chicago, IL (07/01/2005 - 07/02/2005) 

Sound Samples

All in Good Time
Sarabanda in Memoriam
Ashes of Memory: I. Largo
Ashes of Memory: II. Molto grave
Midsummer Fanfare
Partita for Orchestra: I. Praeludium - Fantasia
Partita for Orchestra: II. Rondo - Capriccio
Partita for Orchestra: III. Aria - Sarabande
Partita for Orchestra: IV. Courante - Gigue

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