Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Fuchs: Atlantic Riband - Rousing American Music

Fuchs: Atlantic Riband; American Rhapsody; Divinum Mysterium
Michael Ludwig, violin
Paul Silverthorne, viola
Carmine Lauri and David Alberman, violin; Paul Silverthorne, viola; Timothy Hugh, cello
London Symphony Orchestra
JoAnn Falletta, conductor

Kenneth Fuchs is a composer who's star is on the rise, and no wonder. His music is fresh, exciting, original -- and accessible. This latest release in Naxos' ongoing series of Fuchs recordings. The disc opens with  Atlantic Riband, a short, festive work that has some of the big, open feel of Copland.

The American Rhapsody for violin and orchestra is a more substantial work. It's elegiac, unabashedly beautiful music. The solo violin part's not that difficult technically, but it requires real musicianship to pull it off. Michael Ludwig plays with a great deal of sensitivity and authentic expression, really bringing across the lyrical nature of the work to come across.

Also included is the Divinum Mysterium, an excellent showcase for the viola. Fuchs takes advantage of the lower register of the viola (as compared to the violin) and supports it with very warm harmonies. It's based on a hymn tune, and while Divinum Mysterium is a deeply spiritual work, it's not always serious. There's a mild hoedown section in the middle that give the work an American flavor.

The Concerto Grosso for string quartet and string orchestra has an intersting dynamic to it. The music goes back and forth between the string quartet, and it's larger counterpart, the string orchestra. Discover the Wild wraps up the program. It's a short travelogue style overture full of good-natured energy.

Strong performances by the London Symphony Orchestra and JoAnne Falletta. This isn't the first time Fuch and Falletta have collaborated, and the depth of understanding Falletta brings to this music benefits both he composer, and the listener. Thoroughly enjoyable for first note to last.

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