Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Toward a Season of Peace - Richard Danielpour's masterwork

Ricahard Danielpour
Toward a Season of Peace
Hila Plitmann, soprano
Pacific Chorale
Pacific Symphony, 

Carl St. Clair, director

Richard Danielpour's "Towards a Season of Peace" is an ambitious work -- and one that succeeds in that ambition. Danielpour combines texts from Jewish, Christian and Persian (Arabic) sources in his oratorio for peace. By doing so, he shows the parallels and common ground between the three major religions -- Judaism, Christianity, and Muslim -- currently at war with each other in the Middle East.

Unlike Bernstein's "Requiem Mass," Danielpour never gets preachy. He lets the inherent beauty of the poetic texts, supported by his music, speak for itself. The work is tonal and quite easy to follow -- which I suspect was Danielpour's intention. This isn't an esoteric work for the cognescenti, but rather a work that can be heard and enjoyed by a much wider audience. If you enjoy "modern" composers such as Samuel Barber, Leonard Bernstein, Benjamin Britten, or Michael Tippett, then you should find much to like in Daneilpour's composition. Not that he sounds like any of those composers, but Danielpour seems to be coming from the same place.

In the liner notes Danielpour talks about reconnecting with his Persian musical heritage, and several parts of the score reflect that, adding a verve and excitement not found in works sticking to just Western traditions.

Hila Plitmann's in fine form, letting her clear soprano voice float lightly above the orchestra in her solos. The overall performance by the Pacific Chorale, Pacific Symphony and conductor Carl St. Clair benefit from their close working relationship with the composer. This may be a world-premier recording, but the ensemble performs it as if it were a work they had been playing for years.

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