When I opened the mailer that contained Vicious World Plays the Music of Rufus Wainwright, I questioned the prudence of this recording decision before I even had the shrink wrap fully removed. I mention this just in case your anti-muzak instincts are already telling you something similar. For those open-minded enough to wait until you actually hear a bit of it before making such a judgment call, well, you’re less jaded than I am.
This year in Seattle, Gerard Schwarz and the Seattle Symphony are celebrating the music director’s final season at the helm of the orchestra by presenting 22 world premieres, including 18 new works commissioned under the banner of the Gund/Simonyi Farewell Commissions. We caught up with the maestro in advance of his final concerts of the season to chat about new music, new ideas, and not taking no for an answer.
Austin, Texas-based composer Graham Reynolds’s The Difference Engine: A Triple Concerto does not waste notes getting your attention and it keeps a firm hold on it. His language is evocative and direct: It is as if Reynolds is delivering to your ear a mysterious and ambiguous tale in sound—wildly open to interpretation, of course, but it’s a page-turner nonetheless.
With the first languid lines of “The Sea,” My Brightest Diamond seduces those listening to Letters to Distant Cities (New Amsterdam) into a waking dream.
Far from the generic of solo guitar playing that crowds the sound systems of tapas restaurants and Pier 1 Imports retailers, Gyan Riley’s Stream of Gratitude is a collection of four pieces that show him to be a skilled performer of music that is both deeply personal and profoundly inspired.
In many cases, the aural images John Luther Adams creates can be directly traced to the powerful natural world that surrounds him in his home state of Alaska, a landscape that has undeniably left its imprint on his work. More broadly, however, Adams uses composition as a way to explore and understand the world around him, regardless of borders real and imagined.
How I discovered the music of Kenneth Kirschner when I wasn’t looking for it.
Composer/bassist/singer Esperanza Spalding named the year’s Best New Artist; Michael Daugherty’s Metropolis Symphony (Naxos) brings him Best Orchestral Performance and Best Classical Contemporary Composition recognition.