Picker: Keys to the City; And Suddenly It’s Evening; Cello Concerto

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COMPOSERS: Picker
LABELS: Chandos
WORKS: Keys to the City; And Suddenly It’s Evening; Cello Concerto
PERFORMER: Jeremy Denk (piano), Paul Watkins (cello); Russian PO/Thomas Sanderling
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 10039
Those already familiar with Tobias Picker’s Keys to the City (his second piano concerto) should hear this disc. That brash, Gershwinesque, very public work, completed in 1983 to commemorate the centenary of the Brooklyn Bridge, here receives a second recording (in more alluring sound) to set beside the composer’s own authoritative account (CRI).

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This disc’s primary attraction, though, is its inclusion of two newer, more reflective works which here receive their recording premieres. And Suddenly It’s Evening (1994), which takes its title from a poem by Salvatore Quasimodo, attempts to convey the fleeting nature of youth by combining a rich textural web of rhythmic activity and a sober lyricism resembling the tone of, say, Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms. The Cello Concerto (1999), commissioned by the Proms and premiered there in 2001, has an eloquent champion in soloist Paul Watkins, who gave its premiere. Although some British listeners have heard Elgarian wistfulness in this music, its juxtaposition with And Suddenly It’s Evening will prompt recognition that Picker’s recent music displays a distinctively soulful style that is one of the glories of the current musical scene. Thomas Sanderling and the Russian Philharmonic perform with expressive comprehension and technical mastery. David Breckbill