'... interesting and imaginative music ... professional and committed throughout.'
The music of American composer George Walker -
with KEITH BRAMICH
- 'When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom'd,
And the great star early droop'd in the western sky of the night,
I mourn'd, and yet shall mourn with ever-returning spring.'
The words of Walt Whitman, reflecting on the death of US President Abraham
Lincoln, and set by American composer George Walker for a commission by
the Boston Symphony Orchestra, celebrating the achievements of tenor Roland
Hayes. Lilacs for voice and orchestra (1995) is lyrical and dramatic
music [listen -- track 2, 1:57-2:55], a little
reminiscent of Barber's Knoxville, and it was awarded the 1996 Pulitzer
George Walker was born 27 June 1922 in Washington DC, studying at Oberlin
and Eastman. His teachers included Nadia Boulanger, Robert Casadesus, Gian
Carlo Menotti and Rosario Scalero. Walker began his musical career as a
virtuoso pianist, with composing and teaching work coming later. He taught
at Smith College, Rutgers University (Newark) and at the Peabody Conservatory.
He has written more than 80 works for most media, and is the recipient of
many honours and awards.
This disc begins with Tangents for chamber orchestra (1999), and
it's powerful, weighty stuff. Strong pop and jazz influences don't undermine
the 'seriousness' of the music, which was conceived as a short fanfare for
the new millennium, and commissioned, premièred and now played on
this disc by the ProMusica Chamber Orchestra of Columbus, Ohio conducted
by Timothy Russell [listen -- track 1, 1:57-2:57].
The rest of the disc consists of chamber music. The Wind Set for
woodwind quintet (1999) is a two movement piece with lyrical and virtuosic
rhythmic music juxtaposed.
We have the chance to hear the composer as pianist in the Violin Sonata
No 2 (1979), with violinist son Gregory [listen --
track 10, 0:00-0:56], and the second String Quartet of 1968 is played
by the El Paso Festival Quartet.
The playing and singing of this interesting and imaginative music is
professional and committed throughout.
Copyright © 9 June 2001
Keith Bramich, London, UK
CD INFORMATION - SUMMIT DCD 274
PURCHASE THIS DISC FROM AMAZON
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