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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

CD REVIEW: Adams: Violin Concerto

Adams: Violin Concerto
Naxos 8.559302 (EU)
6 Tracks 63:49 mins

This latest disc in the label's American Classics series gets underway with John Corigliano's Chaconne from The Red Violin, which is of course drawn from his score to that 1998 film, but rather than write a piece using all the elements of his score for this complex history of a violin, the composer chose to base it on the main recurring melody, drawing for a set of variations over a constant bass pattern. What results is a dull and boring piece, with much solo and at times barely audible violin, performed here by Chloe Hanslip. Only after about four minutes and then again at the very end does the piece come to life and nudge one out of the slumber induced by the remainder of the piece.
The other piece of interest to film music followers is prolific Hollywood composer Franz Waxman's Tristan and Isolde Fantasia. This is drawn from the finale of his score for the 1946 film Humoresque and if it sounds familiar, that is because it freely uses elements from the Prelude and Lieberstod of Wagner's opera. It is nevertheless filled with the classic Hollywood sound of the time and will appeal to fans of the Golden Age of Hollywood film scoring.
Waxman, who in his time also strove to promote concert music in California, was also involved in the second piece featured on the disc, his arrangement of George Enescu's Romanian Rhapsody No. 1.
The final and title piece of the disc, is American composer John Adams' Violin Concerto.
As well as Ms Hanslip on violin, Charles Owen features on the piano in the Waxman piece, whilst the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra is conducted by no less than Leonard Slatkin.


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