Review by: Victor Carr Jr
Artistic Quality: 10
Sound Quality: 10
Frank Ticheli’s Clarinet Concerto plays homage to three great American works for that instrument. Rhapsody for George begins with the famous upward-sliding clarinet intro from Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, then continues with a sequence of unchained improvisations. Song for Aaron is a tender evocation of Copland’s Americana-evoking Clarinet Concerto, while Riffs for Lenny reimagines Bernstein’s Prelude, Fugue and Riffs. James Zimmerman handles the raucous and jazzy solo part with finesse, and a good bit of fun.
“Tintinnabulations”, the first movement of Brad Warnaar’s Horn Concerto, conjures a dreamy atmosphere as the horn floats euphonious tones above Steve Reich-like ostinatos on the strings. After the somber “Elegy, Lamentations”, the jaunty and spirited “Tarantella” finale showcases Leslie Norton’s lucid and energized playing.
Modernist tone clusters and string glissandos open Behzad Ranjbaran’s Flute Concerto in a sequence strongly reminiscent of John Williams’ score for Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The solo flute writing is at turns stern and rhapsodic, with impressive florid figurations, especially in the Presto finale, where Ranjbaran again evokes Williams (Indiana Jones) as the flute leads us on a wild chase through a crowded bazaar. This requires considerable agility on the part of the soloist, which Érik Gratton handles with aplomb.
All three works benefit greatly from first-rate orchestral accompaniment by Giancarlo Guerrero and the Nashville Symphony. The recording nicely balances soloists and orchestra. Overall, this a well-conceived and enjoyable program. Highly recommended.
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Recording Details:Album Title: Wind Concertos
FRANK TICHELI: Clarinet Concerto
BRAD WARNAAR: Horn Concerto
BEHZAD RANJBARAN: Flute Concerto
- James Zimmermann (clarinet); Leslie Norton (horn); Érik Gratton (flute)
Nashville Symphony, Giancarlo Guerrero
- Naxos - 8.559818