COMPOSERS: Bolcom & Gandolfi,Druckman,Lerdahl
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Points of Departure
WORKS: Works by Lerdahl, Druckman, Bolcom & Gandolfi
PERFORMER: Orpheus CO
CATALOGUE NO: 435 389-2 DDD
With the possible exception of William Bolcom, the composers on this all-American disc are scarcely known this side of the Atlantic.
It’s not hard to understand why. Although they differ markedly in style, they all occupy the ‘accessible’ end of the contemporary music spectrum, and one can’t help feeling that they’ve had to make a degree of artistic compromise, not least through their overt reliance on past styles.
Fred Lerdahl’s Waves charts a fluid, rather too easy-going progression from a minimalist inflected neo-classicism to a more dissonant but essentially Romantic rhetoric. Bolcom, on the other hand, blatantly juxtaposes different idioms to mildly disorientating and sometimes entertaining ends.
Jacob Druckman’s impressionistic Nor Spell Nor Charm, inspired by Shakespeare’s ‘You spotted snakes’, is strong on craft and contains some ravishing orchestration, but it meanders self-indulgently and the material itself is rather bland. The more tightly structured Points of Departure by Michael Gandolfi employs the most ‘advanced’ idiom, but like all the pieces on this disc, it exhibits little sense of artistic urgency, a lacuna which not even the unconducted Orpheus Chamber Orchestra is able to fill, despite playing of vitality and accomplishment. Antony Bye