Customer Reviews for: Corigliano: Conjurer, Vocalise / Glennie, Plitmann, Miller, Albany Symphony

4 Reviews in Total
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4 Star: 1 Review
3 Star: 0 Reviews
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5.0 Stars (4 Reviews)

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 A musical percussion concerto April 14, 2014
By ben cutler (somerville, NJ) -- See All My Reviews
The second work on this disc is a “Vocalise” for Soprano, Orchestra and Electronic sounds. It is disappointing first of all because I know that John Corigliano can take this music and do it far better. What is very good in this music is a seven note musical motive that, as harmonized, is gorgeous and it, alone, deserves the title, Vocalise. Had Mr. Corigliano filled his nineteen minutes with only these seven notes in all their melodic and electronic implications and forms he would have produced a work truly worth returning to and I look forward to the time when he does, because he is more capable than perhaps any American composer of doing just that. As for his electronics, in this work he seems to not know exactly what he wants. In the U. S., Otto Luening and Vladimir Ussachevsky did this sort of thing far better back in the early ‘50s. Their Poem for Cycles and Bells is a masterpiece of the literature now conveniently forgotten but crying out for a revival. When Mr. Corigliano was asked to write a concerto for percussionist and orchestra, percussionist!, mind you, he was understandably uncertain how he would be able to produce a satisfactory work. So, as a listener, I shared some of Corigliano’s trepidations, especially as this concerto goes on for a remarkable 37 minutes!!! Well this music turns out to be quite good indeed, just what you would expect of him. The organization of the concerto consists of pairs of movements, the pairs devoted to Wood, Metal and Skin instruments respectively. Each pair consists of a short solo for the selected percussion category followed by a longer movement combined with orchestra. Sounds dry doesn’t it. Not at all! There is a sense of naturalness and informality to all this percussion as if you invited to a party to explore these sounds along with the composer. I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would fall for a percussion concerto. The Albany Symphony Orchestra conducted by David Alan Miller do a magnificent job as they always do. Report Abuse

 Magical Performances January 20, 2014
By Ralph Graves (Hood, VA) -- See All My Reviews
This new recording brings together two unusual additions to John Corigliano's repertoire. "Conjurer" is a percussion concerto composed for Evelyn Glennie (who performs on this release). The work has six sections: three cadenzas, and three movements, labeled Wood, Metal, and Skin. Each movement uses percussion instruments only belonging to its own group. Corigliano blends tonal and non-tonal percussion instruments with alacrity. Each cadenza leads into a movement where the string orchestra further develops the themes, along with the soloist. It's an effective work when done well -- and in this recording, it's done very well. "Vocalise" is the older of the two works, being completed in 1999. This challenging work for soprano, electronics and orchestra plays against audience expectations. When the piece begins, it sounds like a typical contemporary work. The melody seems to skip all over the place, the electronics add a strangeness and artificiality to the sound, and the orchestra bloops and bleeps away with tone clusters and glissandi. But very soon things start to change. Like a flower blossoming, the work opens up. The melody becomes more tonal, the electronics more subtle, and the ensemble more expansive. It ends quietly, having made the journey through the full potential of the human voice. The Albany symphony performs admirably in both works. Soprano Hila Plitmann has a pure sustained tone that gives her performance an ethereal quality -- one in keeping with the intent of "Vocalise." Recommended. Report Abuse

 Great CD December 18, 2013
By Joe S. -- See All My Reviews
John Corigliano is consistently one of the best American composers alive. Ever since listening to his Symphony No. 1 in college I’ve been hooked on his music. This album of his music with the Albany Symphony under David Alan Miller is no exception. The first piece, Conjurer, is Corigliano’s first percussion concerto, featuring Dame Evelyn Glennie as the soloist. The piece addresses Corigliano’s concerns with the run-of-the-mill concerti where the soloist is just a glorified drumset accompanying the orchestra—so he takes care to have the themes emerge from the soloist. There are some raucous passages and some very cool timbres. I like the idea of using a non-pitched keyboard of woodblocks to augment the marimba sound, and there are some strange glisses Glennie gets out of a “talking drum”. The middle section entitled “Metal” is a little long, but I was okay with it because I was preparing for the craziness to come in the final movement. I knew Corigliano wouldn’t leave me hanging. I was very scared to listen to Vocalise. In my experience, vocalises have almost-exclusively been navel-gazing student works. Add to that my PTSD from studying Babbitt’s Philomel in college, a harshly modernist work for vocalist and electronics, suffice it to say I was reticent. What I got was an entirely different experience. While I was expecting electronic augmentation the whole time, instead it was tastefully folded into the sound of the whole orchestra. If you’re scared of electronic stuff, you emphatically should not be with this piece. The lack of text is a little weird for a 20 minute work, but the piece blossoms with moments that almost sound like Tchaikovsky. John Corigliano consistently creates accessible music that still manages to have wild gestures throughout. I highly recommend this album if you are a percussionist or if you’re trying to ease your way into listening to electronic music. Cool stuff. Report Abuse

 Welcome back Corigliano! December 4, 2013
By Due Fuss -- See All My Reviews
I was initially wary of this disc, my last experience with Corigilano being his score "The Red Violin," which I found mawkish and trite. That said, this disc is great. "Conjurer" is a percussion concerto exploring a variety of sounds and effects without relying on the gimmicks that so often hinder percussion from achieving true expressiveness. Dame Glennie (when did she receive the honorific?) is precise and powerful as always. "Vocalise" is elegant and mysterious (with a hint of influence from Gerard Grisey or Tristan Murail?), beautifully sung by Hila Plitmann. David Alan Miller ably leads the Albany Symphony through these difficult works. I may have to revisit "The Red Violin!" Report Abuse

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