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Monday, March 26, 2012

Divergence: Modern Concerti for Strings--Nicholas Sackman, Scott Michal, William Thomas McKinley

There is no shortage of new music out there to hear if you look for it. Divergence (Navona 5858), for example, presents three concerti for strings and orchestra by three living composer who may be new names to you. There's Nicholas Sackman's, Concertino for Violin and Orchestra, Scott Michal's, Encomiums, a concerto for violin, and
William Thomas McKinley's, Concert Variations, which place both violin and viola in the solo spotlight.

These are three melifluous yet modern concerti, well played with good sonic presence by the Moravian Philharmonic or the Warsaw National Philharmonic, and soloists doing a fine job as well. The McKinley concerto is the more somber of the three overall, and to me the most moving, with a Lamento forming the theme for a series of variations and the composer creating a vivid footprint that evinces a thematically inventive imagination and orchestrational brightness.

The Michal work pays tribute to three contrapuntal masters, Hindemith, Bach and Prokofiev, and sounds a bit closer in general to Hindemith than otherwise.

Sackman's Concertino has a vibrant fanfarish opening and a rhymically lively final movement with a bit more reflectivity in the middle section. The violin solo part is technically and compositionally weighty and Ondrej Lebr impresses as the protagonist violinist.

In sum, all worthwhile works, done to a turn.

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