Friday, January 17, 2014
Evelyn Glennie conjures up a great performance with Corgliano concerto
Conjurer for percussion soloist and string orchestra
Vocalise for soprano and orchestra
Evelyn Glennie, percussion; Hila Plitmann, soprano
Albany Symphony Orchestra
David Allen Miller, conductor
This new recording brings together two unusual additions to John Corigliano's repertoire. "Conjurer" is a percussion concerto composed for Evelyn Glennie (who performs on this release). The work has six sections: three cadenzas, and three movements, labeled Wood, Metal, and Skin. Each movement uses percussion instruments only belonging to its own group.
Corigliano blends tonal and non-tonal percussion instruments with alacrity. Each cadenza leads into a movement where the string orchestra further develops the themes, along with the soloist. It's an effective work when done well -- and in this recording, it's done very well.
"Vocalise" is the older of the two works, being completed in 1999. This challenging work for soprano, electronics and orchestra plays against audience expectations. When the piece begins, it sounds like a typical contemporary work. The melody seems to skip all over the place, the electronics add a strangeness and artificiality to the sound, and the orchestra bloops and bleeps away with tone clusters and glissandi.
But very soon things start to change. Like a flower blossoming, the work opens up. The melody becomes more tonal, the electronics more subtle, and the ensemble more expansive. It ends quietly, having made the journey through the full potential of the human voice.
The Albany symphony performs admirably in both works. Soprano Hila Plitmann has a pure sustained tone that gives her performance an ethereal quality -- one in keeping with the intent of "Vocalise."