Anthony McGill, the New York Philharmonic’s principal clarinetist, and brother Demarre McGill, the Seattle Symphony Orchestra’s principal flutist, return to a beloved training ground, the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras (CYSO), for an album of works for flute, clarinet, and orchestra featuring world-premiere recordings of specially commissioned duo concertos. The album’s title track, celebrated African-American composer Michael Abels’ Winged Creatures, was commissioned for the project by Cedille Records. Inspired by the flight of butterflies and other creatures, its solo parts are, in turns, delicate, frenetic, soaring, and powerful. The orchestra originally commissioned Joel Puckett’s Concerto Duo for a 2012 concert with the McGill brothers. The work evokes family affection and sibling camaraderie. Franz Danzi’s virtuosic and elegant Sinfonia Concertante for Flute, Clarinet, and Orchestra, Op. 41, is a tour de force of late-Classical charm. Saint-Saëns’ youthful, virtuosic Tarantelle, Op. 6, draws inspiration from a southern Italian folk dance. It is something of a signature piece for the McGills, who performed the piano-accompanied version on Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood when the brothers were 18 and 14, respectively.
The Chicago Youth Orchestra are impressive for their age. The McGill brothers charge forward with a dynamic and indefatigable zest that is captivating and even exciting to hear. It is one of those couplings where everything works together, that matches up well with performers and compositions that fit together in absorbing ways. The new works are mainstream Modern and well crafted, nicely wrought. Definitely recommended.
– Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review