ALBUM TITLE: Adler
WORKS: Symphony No. 6; Cello Concerto; Drifting on Winds and Currents
PERFORMER: Maximilian Hornung (cello); Royal Scottish National Orchestra/ José Serebrier
CATALOGUE NO: CKD 545
The American scholar Howard Pollack once wrote that an archaeological dig of Samuel Adler’s music would find Piston and Hindemith, two of the composer’s Harvard teachers in the early 1950s, close to the lowest strata. He’s right, too, though many additional layers become audible in the bustling works featured on this unexpected disc from the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. Adler’s synagogue heritage is never very far away. Other trademarks include atmospheric cloud textures, brazen brass, shuddering wood blocks, and the urban dazzle of a Bernstein.
The impressive Symphony No. 6, composed in the mid 1980s but receiving its premiere with this recording, is a well-chiselled rollercoaster ride featuring rhythmic surges, long-legged melodies, and a slow movement of rustling ruminations. The Cello Concerto of 1995 is even more diverse, but there’s just about room in its crowded exchanges to enjoy Maximilian Hornung’s wit and luscious tone. Drifting on Winds and Currents, a short tone poem from 2010, doesn’t add much to what we’ve already heard, least of all a sense of drift – something inimical to Adler’s energised art.
A natural conductor for novel repertoire, José Serebrier secures gusto and finesse from the orchestra in Glasgow. Recommended for collectors of mainstream Americana with a distinctive twist.