Torke: Overnight Mail; Telephone Book; July; Flint; Change of Address from ‘King of Hearts’

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WORKS: Overnight Mail; Telephone Book; July; Flint; Change of Address from ‘King of Hearts’
PERFORMER: Orkest de Volharding, Present Music, Apollo Saxophone Quartet, Michael Torke Band/Michael Torke
CATALOGUE NO: 455 684-2
It is easy to hear why Michael Torke has long been the house composer of New York City Ballet: the unmistakable spirit of dance soars through the opening passages of Overnight Mail, the extraordinary 1997 piece that gives this latest collection its name. The Orkest de Volharding, a wild, wonderfully unruly brass and woodwind ensemble, obviously relishes the chance to shine in this music and displays the sort of disarming spontaneity that comes from assurance and true musical enjoyment. Tightly wound spirals of melody tease a tower of brass textures recalling the Big Band sound of the Forties, lyrical flights happen as if by chance from all the tumult and chords suggest resolutions that prove ephemeral indeed. This is music of surprises. The sudden majesty of the central andante of Overnight Mail is shockingly Romantic. At other times, particularly in the opening presto as well as the pop-flavoured finale, the musical mood is not far from Leonard Bernstein’s joyful Fancy Free. In fact, Torke may turn out to be the true heir to Bernstein’s populist throne rather than America’s answer to Michael Nyman. Torke’s is certainly music to confound snobs and give immense pleasure. The rest of the disc is devoted to other recent works and is frankly wonderful. Octavio Roca