COMPOSERS: Muhly,Read Thomas,
A Norman: Switch
LABELS: Reference Recordings
ALBUM TITLE: Dawn to Dust
WORKS: Read Thomas: EOS (Goddess of the Dawn); Muhly: Control; A Norman: Switch
PERFORMER: Colin Currie (percussion); Utah Symphony/Thierry Fischer
CATALOGUE NO: FR-719 (hybrid CD/SACD)
Three premieres from the Utah Symphony, suffused with the light of that wide-skied, sunny state, crackling with fast-paced ambition. Each composer has plundered the ensemble’s rich resources, while employing an American language that derives from Roy Harris and Copland via John Adams.
Read Thomas’s ballet EOS seethes with transparent verve and rhythmic energy. We move from dawn to noon in seven scenes, each with a distinctive soundworld, from still radiance to intricate, percussive counterpoint. Timbral combinations are beautifully judged, with sufficient space for colours to chime and glow, here performed with bright acuity.
Muhly grapples with Utah’s awe-inspiring landscape in Control. The grinding ascent through the orchestra in ‘Landform’ generates a smouldering heat, tuned percussion clattering overhead, while ‘Mountain’ is a nocturne teeming with quiet chatter from an anatomised string section. ‘Beehive’ sets a quantum minimalist machine in motion with a gentleness that belies the scale of its forces, finally unleashed in the testosterone-fuelled punches of part four. ‘Red Dust’ pays stylish homage to Messaien and the Western.
In Andrew Norman’s Switch the soloist (the ever-compelling Colin Currie) is engaged in a game of control over the orchestra. He’s described it as like being ‘in a giant pinball machine’, but for all its sound and fury the musical material is tame. Thierry Fischer draws impressive performances throughout.