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Thursday, October 25, 2018

Miguel Kertsman, Three Concertos, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Dennis Russell Davies

What we never hear we can never truly know. That thought keeps me ever at the listening station here. And happily it turns out there still is a great deal worth hearing coming out every day. One such a thing is Miguel Kertsman's Three Concertos (Naxos 8.573987), brought very nicely to us courtesy of the London Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of the distinguished Dennis Russell Davies.

Kertsman as of this writing is in his early fifties. The music in this program was written between 2005 and 2015. It sounds Modern surely, tonal and extremely well wrought. The four works on the program are each very much something with a special identity, and so the hearing is an opening onto a number of fascinating worlds.

The concertos are very alive and vibrant in sound. "Concerto Brasileiro for Flute, Strings and Percussion" (2005) features an agile and mesmerizing flute part and the sort of Brazilian spirit that moves us happily forward.

The contrasting "Concerto for Violin, Horn, Shofar and Orchestra" (2013) has a very mysterious and atmospheric demeanor. It is masterful writing and orchestration with a kind of sonic presence that gradually lifts itself into strongly memorable places the more you listen. If there is one work you might first turn to to get an idea of Kertsman's sonic depth and aurally inventive imagination, this would be my choice. It is rather unforgettable after several run-throughs.

One could listen to this program solely with the idea of identifying and tracing the various musical influences Kertsman adeptly utilizes for his own musical vision. If we followed that string of hearing  we would encounter rock, folk, pop, local and other diverse strands that all get assimilated and transformed by the composer's masterful ways.

So the "Journey for Bassoon and Orchestra" of 2013 has some very engaging and moving music. I especially like the jazz influences but then too a very new kind of rhapsodic, songy Modernism and a wash of majestic lyricism.

The latest (2015) work and a fitting finale to the program comes to us as the "Chamber Symphony No. 2 'New York of 50 Doors.'" This one has a pretty stunning jazz-rock heft to it that neither sounds condescending nor does it seem gratuitous as it can sometimes be in the hands of lesser and less committed composers.

There we have it. This is a beautifully performed program of absolutely  worthy sounds. Kertsman manages to be completely Modern and yet so too lyrical and melodically enchanting. Four works, four worlds all different and a very satisfying listen to anyone who welcomes the NEW in New Music. I recommend this one strongly to you.

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