SOUNDS OF AMERICA
B E R G E R
S T E P H A N
P H O T O G R A P H Y
Playing Bartók by heart: the Chiara Quartet have released a new album on Azica (review page I)
approaching Brahmsian. It’s a warm and ebullient score, with all sorts of beguiling ideas that the instruments share in seamless fashion. Kellogg’s noble A Glorious Morning, meanwhile, takes inspiration from the title of and sentiments expressed in Shakespeare’s Sonnet 33. Glorious it is, especially as played to the hilt by hornist Michael Thornton, violinist Yumi HwangWilliams and pianist Andrew Litton.
Yes, that Andrew Litton, better known as a conductor, but who happens to be a first-rate pianist. He is the anchor in a performance of the Brahms Trio that is at once poetic and ebullient, mournful and rollicking. It would be easy for musicians to take such a familiar piece for granted, but not these players. They illuminate the work’s varied moods through subtle shadings and supple phrasing, and they give the last movement’s hunting activity a joyous ride. Inspired, really. Donald Rosenberg
Daugherty Tales of Hemingwaya. American Gothicb. Once Upon a Castlec a Zuill Bailey vc cPaul Jacobs org Nashville Symphony Orchestra / Giancarlo Guerrero Naxos American Classics M 8 559798 (78’ • DDD) Recorded live at Schermerhorn Symphony Centre, Nashville, abApril 17 & 18, cNovember 4–7, 2015
Michael Daugherty has always revelled in the rainbow of hues and swashbuckling gestures a symphony orchestra can conjure up. He is in grand, inventive form in the three works the Nashville Symphony and music director Giancarlo Guerrero perform here with handsome assurance. Each work is a depiction of an iconic American or, in the case of the newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst, the castle he built high above the Pacific in California.
Tales of Hemingway for cello and orchestra (2015) portrays four of the novelist’s stories in music of sweeping drama and poetry. Daugherty sends the cello soaring and singing with the orchestra as he summons key moments in the Hemingway books. The solo writing calls for an artist of eloquent persuasion, and Zuill Bailey more than meets the score’s demands with playing that combines fervour and poetry.
Daugherty returns to his home state, Iowa, to pay tribute to the artist Grant Wood, whose celebrated painting American Gothic gives the 2013 work its title. The music, at once whimsical and warm, gives animated impetus to Wood’s creations. It’s a vibrant orchestral showpiece, with charismatic solo parts for many instruments (the tuba is especially excellent here).
Hearst’s extravagant abode in San Simeon comes to brilliant life in Once Upon a Castle (2015), whose four movements receive an extra sonic kick with the presence of a pipe organ, played to the glowing hilt by Paul Jacobs. Guerrero and the orchestra sound as if they’re savouring every fresh Daugherty detail. Donald Rosenberg
Prokofiev Violin Sonatas – No 1, Op 80; No 2, Op 94bis. Five Melodies, Op 35bis Jameson Cooper vn Ketevan Badridze pf Afinat F AR1601 (68’ • DDD)
What a wonder it is how mutable music can be. Two of the works violinist
Jameson Cooper and pianist Ketevan Badridze perform on their superb new Prokofiev disc originated in versions featuring voice (what became Five Melodies, Op 35bis) and flute (Violin Sonata No 2 in D, Op 94bis). As effective as the earlier incarnations of these pieces may be, the composer transformed them into something magisterial by mining the violin’s expressive and technical possibilities.
GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2016 III