LABELS: Orange Mountain Music
ALBUM TITLE: Glass
WORKS: The Concerto Project Vol. II: Piano Concerto No. 2, After Lewis and Clark; Concerto for Harpsichord and Orchestra
PERFORMER: Paul Barnes, Carlos Nakai (piano), Jillon Stoppels Dupree (harpsichord); Northwest Chamber Orchestra/Ralf Gothóni
CATALOGUE NO: 30
Orange Mountain’s series of its proprietor’s concertos continues with a keyboard volume, presenting the composer’s second piano concerto back-to-back with a harpsichord concerto. The first piece is inspired by the journey of explorers Lewis and Clark, whose two-year expedition beginning in 1804 was the first overland excursion made by nonnatives to North America’s Pacific coast. Political awareness is at least satisfied, as the work specifically fuses European and Native American elements, both musically (the second movement, for example, prominently features Native American flute) and historically (the same movement is named for the explorers’ Native American companion and interpreter). The work is highly programmatic in its evocation of the explorers’ resolve, the vastness of the task facing them and so on, but the varied musical content prevents any lapses into over-literal clumsiness and instead presents a lively and vibrant whole.
The same can be said of the Harpsichord Concerto, although here the instrument’s own history carries much of the musical narrative. Its vivacious style perfectly addresses the tricky balancing act demanded by the combination of an earlyish keyboard with a modern chamber orchestra. Overall, then, an attractively performed and expertly recorded addition to your Glass menagerie. Roger Thomas