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Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Jennifer Higdon, All Things Majestic, Nashville Symphony, Giancarlo Guerrero

There are more and more women composers out there in present times, which of course is a healthy trend. One of the best and most well known is Jennifer Higdon. We have a recent disk of some orchestral works on All Things Majestic (Naxos 8.559823) which features Vladimir Guerrero and the Nashville Symphony with convincing performances.

There are three works in all, the title work "All Things Majestic" (2011), plus world premier recordings of the "Viola Concerto" (2014) and the "Oboe Concerto" (2005). I have listened to the disk my requisite five times and while the music is well put-together, I honestly have not been left with a firm impression. You probably can blame that on a very bad week and so a distracted listener, this reviewer.

As I write this the fifth playing is going on simultaneously, which is standard operating procedure for me. The "Viola Concerto" is very well written in a contemporary modern way. The "Oboe Concerto" is especially attractive for the way the oboe interacts with the orchestral matrix, differing in time as the work progresses.

The title work is perhaps the centerpiece for all of this. It is a most noble work, the horns projecting a regal beauty and hushed strings showing a quieter, more peaceful view, for example. It is a masterful orchestral essay  Higdon sounds modern yet she is not afraid to be unabashedly lyrical in diatonic expansiveness.

In the end my last listen did help put the music together. That I am left slightly adrift can no doubt be ascribed to the lack of peace in my home the past few weeks. I can find no fault with the music or the performances. So I cannot say this is not a worthy release. Higdon needs to be heard and here is a good opportunity for that.

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