Kats-chernin

COMPOSERS: Kats-chernin
LABELS: ABC
ALBUM TITLE: Kats-chernin
WORKS: Wild Swans Concert Suite; Piano Concerto No. 2; Mythic
PERFORMER: Tasmanian SO/Ola Rudner
CATALOGUE NO: 476 7639 Reissue (2004)
The jewel-case bears a sticker proclaiming ‘Music from the TV advert For the Journey’. The ad promotes a high-street bank, the music is ‘Eliza Aria’, the second movement of this concert suite which Tashkent-born, Australian-based Kats-Chernin created from her score for the ballet Wild Swans. That bright, childlike, wordless song for soprano typifies one aspect of the suite, but there are also robust orchestral dances (for example ‘Brothers’) and sinister episodes that are menacing (‘Wicked Witch’) and sleazy (‘Magic Spell Tango’). Kats-Chernin’s work has been labelled post-Minimalist, and certainly several passages have echoes of John Adams, but another obvious comparison here is the film composer Danny Elfman.

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The four-movement Piano Concerto uses similarly minimalist-style melodic material, but also draws on Chopin and the blues. The petulant exchanges of the third movement clear the decks for the rhapsodic yet rather bitter finale. Mythic, the darkest, densest and most impressive piece, illustrates how Kats-Chernin likes to confound expectations. Barry Witherden