COMPOSERS: Theofanidis; Del Tredici; Bernstein
WORKS: The Here and Now
PERFORMER: Hila Plitmann (soprano), Nancy Maultsby (mezzo-soprano), Richard Clement (tenor), Brett Polegato (baritone); Atlanta Chorus & SO/Robert Spano
CATALOGUE NO: CD-80638
The Here and Now by the American Masterprize winner Christopher Theofanidis sets translations of poems by the 13th-century Sufi mystic Jalalu’ddin Rumi. They cry out for the lush, perfumed intensity of Szymanowski’s Rumi setting in his Third Symphony. But although Theofanidis achieves a few moments of magical sonority, his stock texture of choral declamation in plain harmonies, interspersed with little patches of madrigalian imitation, seems altogether too wholesome.
Paul Revere’s Ride is the response of David Del Tredici, a senior but still maverick figure in American music, to the 2001 attack on New York. Longfellow’s poem describing the outbreak of the American Revolution is shared between the chorus and an amplified (or in this recording uncomfortably close-miked) soprano. The idiom is mostly souped-up Verdi, with sirens making an all too literal link to the present day.
The two new works were premiered together in Atlanta last May (with the closing Lamentation of Bernstein’s early Jeremiah Symphony as a further, more dignified commemoration of 9/11). All praise to Robert Spano and his Atlanta Symphony forces for commissioning them, and for the clearly audible commitment of the performances, as well as to Telarc for issuing them so rapidly. I wish I could be more enthusiastic about the music. Anthony Burton