A live concert, a radio broadcast, a recording, a musical score and a sampling from the Internet all offer possibilities with certain caveats for those who are unfamiliar with my music.
The concert hall experience is one that I heartily support because of its unique ambience. I regard my music as a part of a historical continuum. When a work is adequately rehearsed and placed properly in the context of the program, the listener should be able to grasp some aspect of its significance in relative terms. Moreover, this acoustical environment creates a presence that cannot be duplicated by any electronic format. The downside of this environment is obvious. One performance of a new composition, with the inevitable distractions that occur in a hall, can result in only a vague impression of its qualities.
Good recordings offer unlimited possibilities for discovering the subtleties and musical connections that have flitted by unnoticed in one exposure to the music. They can reveal details obscured in the concert performance that can heighten one’s sense of personal involvement in the music.
Certain works of mine, the Lyric for Strings, the Concerto for Trombone and Orchestra and the Piano Sonatas no. 1 and 2, that have become a part of the standard repertoire, do not require a special effort to be appreciated in any venue, if the performances are sufficiently professional. However, some of the works that have been recorded are unlikely to be programmed frequently.
Lilacs for Voice and Orchestra, which received the Pulitzer Prize in Music in 1996 and has just been released on Summit Records, unfortunately must be placed in this category. The artists whose talents are represented on this recording and other recordings from Albany Records, CRI, GM Records and BIS have brought a measure of accuracy, insight and intensity to the music that make their performances superb in most cases and close to being definitive in a few others. The musical content is realized without a suggestion of the whimsical or the idiosyncratic. A composer cannot ask for more than this- for which I am most grateful.