DIMENSIONS - Works for String Orchestra

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DIMENSIONS - Works for String Orchestra - Various Conductors - Various Orchestras - 896931000956 - Released: November 2012 - Navona Records NV5895

1} Gregory Hutter - Deploration
2} Louis Babin - Couleurs
3} Reynard Burns - Revolutions
4} Andrew March - Sanguis Venenatus
5} Louis Babin - La Suite du Promeneur
6} Claude Debussy - Maid With The Flaxen Hair
7} Rudy Kronfuss - River of Time
8} Daniel Burwasser - Flux

A fine grouping of new music scored for String Orchestra all, it seems, written within the last twenty-five years or so, except for the Claude Debussy of course which, in my opinion, doesn't really fit well within this collection, not only because it's in a completely different style and from what now seems like a distant era, but also because it's scored for clarinet and strings, and after forty minutes of solely string instruments, the clarinet sounds out of place and distracting. But then again, it's followed by the Rudy Kronfuss piece which is scored for English Horn and orchestra, but at least belongs with the rest of the rarely heard works by these fine composers who seem relegated to the sidelines. The ensembles range from the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra to the Concordia Orchestra, with conductors including Petr Vronsky and Marin Alsop.

Two works in particular deserve special attention. They are both exemplified by masterful writing and stirring emotive power, and embody what we've come to expect from music for String Orchestra alone. Gregory Hutter's Deploration and the Sanguis Venenatus by Andrew March both contain the je ne sais quoi essence that makes works for String Orchestra so appealing. Hutter's emphasis on the violas and second violins lends the whole piece a dark flavor, made the more poignant by the slowly unfolding fugal middle section of the work. And although far removed from it stylistically, the Andrew March composition conjures up an emotive soundscape similar to Barber's Adagio, if you listen to it that way. And you will be surprised to know how this piece came about, when you read the detailed notes found on the CD-rom portion of the disc, along with full scores and composer bios. So while you are listening to these pieces on your computer, you can dive right in by following the score.

Navona Records thread new ground here by presenting us with new, unheard music by unfamiliar composers. But I can pretty well guarantee you that some of them will quickly become new favorites.

Jean-Yves Duperron - January 2013