John Williams, Takemitsu, Hovhaness, Tobias Picker

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Hovhaness,John Williams,Takemitsu,Tobias Picker
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: The Five Sacred Trees
WORKS: The Five Sacred Trees; Tree Line; Symphony No. 2 (Mysterious Mountain); Old and Lost Rivers
PERFORMER: Judith LeClair (bassoon)LSO/John Williams
The Five Sacred Trees, a tone poem in the form of a bassoon concerto, is ravishing. John Williams’s almost innocent, unabashedly neo-Romantic new piece evokes the oak and other sacred trees of Celtic folklore. After the bassoon’s opening, sombre solo, Eo Mugna explodes in a filigree of woodwinds and strings that wrap themselves higher and higher around a sturdy tonal trunk. Tortan is a jig of sorts, the fiddle challenging the bassoon in joyful syncopation. LeClair’s articulation here is breathtaking. The delicate harp introduction to Eo Rossa leads with ease to a plaintive melody that is, or ought to be, a folksong. Craeb Uisnig emerges as a vivid and even peaceful evocation of nature. Dathi begins with surprisingly acid harmonies and opens up to expansive orchestral phrases. At the piece’s close, the bassoon’s line is inconclusive, heartbreaking.


Toru Takemitsu’s Tree Line, a Japanese ‘Tombeau de Debussy’, shimmers with a myriad points of light after the Williams score. Alan Hovhaness’s Mysterious Mountain prefigures both Górecki and the underrated Vyacheslav Artyomov. The LSO’s performance, here and elsewhere, is one of majestic sweep. An encore of Tobias Picker’s four-minute Old and Lost Rivers closes the concert on the gentlest of notes. Octavio Roca