Corigliano: Symphony No. 2

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Corigliano
LABELS: Chandos
ALBUM TITLE: Corigliano – Symphony No. 2
WORKS: Symphony No. 2
PERFORMER: Eleonora Turovsky (vln), I Musici de Montréal/Yuri Turovsky
CATALOGUE NO: CHSA 5035
The American composer John Corigliano’s Second Symphony made a strong impression when I reviewed the premiere recording of it last August, and it gets better with repeated hearings. Like James MacMillan, Corigliano is an audacious bringer-together of seemingly irreconcilable styles. He can be as experimental as any modernist, then seconds later address his audience with the open-hearted directness of Mahler. But when a composer is as many-sided as this, different performances are inevitably going to stress different elements.

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John Storgårds’s Ondine recording packs a powerful emotional punch – the sense of loss and ultimately inconsolable grief is almost overpowering. This new version is hardly cold, but what stands out here is the sonic virtuosity: the richness of sounds and textures created from just a string orchestra. There were times when I was reminded of Lutos?awski’s Preludes and Fugues for 13 Solo Strings in which effects not only catch the ear but seem in addition to open doors on new imaginative worlds.

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Choosing between this new version and the Ondine isn’t easy – especially when the new recording is every bit as dazzling technically. The new coupling, Corigliano’s wonderfully atmospheric and inventive score for the film The Red Violin, is more substantial. But in the end it’s Storgårds who conveys the stronger sense of the Symphony as a whole statement. Stephen Johnson