Hila Plitman – soprano, Richard Clement – tenor, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, conducted by Robert Spano
One of the bravest acts by a record company in recent memory must certainly be Telarc’s commitment to record, music unheard, two works commissioned by the Atlanta Symphony and Chorus from composers not known for their choral writing. The two works—Christopher Theofanidis’s The Here and Now and David Del Tredici’s Paul Revere’s Ride—are both big, sprawling musical canvasses. Both are given truly committed treatment here by performing and engineering forces alike who went into the studio to record the works the day after their world premiere performances this past May. Theofanidis (b. 1967) is a rising star in the orchestra community whose Rainbow Body, also recorded by the ASO for Telarc, has been one of the most frequently performed contemporary American orchestral works. His radiant timbral palette serves the equally radiant poetry of the early 13th-century Persian sufi Jalalu’ddin Rumi, sung here in the widely-acclaimed recent English translation by Coleman Barks. It proves a fascinating companion piece to David Del Tredici’s equally over the top orchestral rendering of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s popular Revolutionary War ode.
The inclusion of only one movement from Leonard Bernstein’s Jeremiah Symphony, a work not commissioned by the ASO which has been recorded several times previously, seems a concession either to the dictates of critics who demand at least 70 minutes per CD or to retailers who feel more confident in the sell through of a disc with at least one somewhat familiar item on it. However, the Lennie extract, based on the Lamentations of Jeremiah from the Old Testament, was also performed on the concert leading up to the recording. In both the concert and this recording, Spano uses works from three generations of American composers, each based on texts from very different eras, to evoke and memorialize the events of September 11, 2001, in an indirect and ultimately more universal way than most 9/11 memorials thus far.