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Danny Elfman • Adolphus Hailstork: Concertos

Sandy Cameron (violin), Stewart Goodyear (piano); Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra/JoAnn Falletta (Naxos)

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

Danny Elfman • Adolphus Hailstork
Danny Elfman: Violin Concerto ‘Eleven Eleven’; Adolphus Hailstork: Piano Concerto No. 1
Sandy Cameron (violin), Stewart Goodyear (piano); Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra/JoAnn Falletta
Naxos 8.559925   64:20 mins


Violin concertos aren’t getting any shorter: Danny Elfman’s 2017 creation lasts just as long as Brahms and Beethoven’s. It may not be music for the ages, though most of the concerto’s 1111 bars (hence the title) definitely keep the listener engaged, especially when the soloist is the dazzlingly nimble Sandy Cameron. She currently enjoys exclusive performing rights for the work, and has previously recorded it with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. JoAnn Falletta’s Buffalo forces give the snappy rhythms an extra American kick, though nothing tops Cameron’s furious dexterity as her subtly amplified instrument skitters through four movements of typical Elfman movie madness infused with larger than usual echoes of Prokofiev and Shostakovich; an injection of Tchaikovsky, too.

Enjoyment is harder to come by in the album’s other American concerto, the first fidgety Piano Concerto (1992) of Adolphus Hailstork. His mixed ancestry (African American, native American, European) is complemented in music reflecting both Old Worlds and New. Romantic surges regularly come under percussive attack, with lyrical melodies forced to adopt ungrateful angular shapes. Soloist Stuart Goodyear’s precision and stamina never waver, while Falletta and the orchestra display their customary firm grip and devotion to the cause. I obstinately remained unconvinced.


Geoff Brown