A special eight-page section focusing on recent recordings from the US and Canada



Barber . Harlin . Higdon ‘American Rapture’ Barber Symphony No 1, Op 9 Harlin Rapture Higdon Harp Concertoa a Yolanda Kondonassis hp Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra / Ward Stare Azica F AXA71327 (53’ • DDD) Recorded live at Eastman Theatre, Rochester, NY, September 17 20, 2018

The Rochester Philharmonic’s excellent calling card features premiere

recordings of Jennifer Higdon’s Harp Concerto, starring Yolanda Kondonassis, and Patrick Harlin’s Rapture, bookending an outstanding performance of Samuel Barber’s First Symphony.

Higdon’s concerto, commissioned by a consortium of orchestras from six heartland cities – in addition to Rochester (New York), the Harrisburg (Pennsylvania), Baton Rouge (Louisiana), Fargo-Moorhead (North Dakota) and Lansing (Michigan) Symphony Orchestras and the Oklahoma City Philharmonic Orchestra – is a delight. A shimmering ‘First Light’, an exhilarating ‘Joy Ride’, a lovely ‘Lullaby’ which develops into something lush and bright, and a concluding ‘Rap Knock’, in which musical ideas tumble out of the composer’s head before a balletic sequence with flute leads to deconstructed chaos until trumpets herald the harp finally coming to terms with the orchestra. Throughout, Kondonassis’s playing is a delicious thrill. Patrick Harlin’s nineminute Rapture is a no less adventurous journey that leads from a series of beguiling, unconventional tunes to a final exhilarating sweep of events.

Heard after the less intense Higdon, the brutal timpani shot opening the Barber is a shock. No matter, Barber’s early flush of romantic outpouring is no less seductive than it ever has been – which is to say magnificent – with no let-up throughout its stormy, passionate 22 minutes. The playing is powerful and commanding,

a calling card also for the Philharmonic’s youngest-ever music director, Ward Stare, who will be moving on after the summer of 2021.

The sound, recorded live at Eastman Theatre’s Kodak Hall – where three months earlier Higdon’s Harp Concerto had its first performance – captures the music with impact, eloquence and flair. Laurence Vittes

talks to ... duo526Violinist Kerry DuWors and pianist Futaba Niekawa discuss their latest album ‘Duo Fantasy’

You explore interesting repertoire. What made you couple the Villa-Lobos and Bax? One of our passions as a duo is to discover and perform repertoire from the 20th century. While we love playing music across genres and periods, we tend to gravitate towards music written during the World Wars – this music is often rich, fuelled by turbulent times, and explores rooted nationalism in individual and powerful ways. To probe what the composers wanted to say and how we want to say it is inspiring. We love to travel, and we can do that musically by programming works written at roughly the same time by composers from different parts of the world. For this recording we wanted to explore how different composers treated the notion of fantasy, and we uncovered these wonderful sonatas – which combine elements of sonata and fantasy – by Brazilian composer Villa-Lobos and Arnold Bax from the UK: two composers writing at the same time in two very different countries.

How do these works compare stylistically? Villa-Lobos’s Sonata fantasia is an extroverted showcase featuring the composer’s characteristic Brazilian motifs, rhythmic density and sheer virtuosity. It is a very compact work and a whirlwind from irst note to last. Bax’s Violin Sonata No 2, by contrast, is almost cerebral and introverted. It is very much like his epic symphonic tone-poems – weighty, serious and brooding. It spans a great distance in time and in experience.

The Bolcom is a very different again … Indeed! Bolcom’s Duo Fantasy immediately drew us in when we irst read it. It is full of texture and colour, and provides a more light-hearted contrast to the other works.

Cervetti ‘Parallel Realms’ Consolamentum. Et in Arcadia ego. Plexus Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra / Petr Vronský Navona F NV6217 (48’ • DDD)

Sergio Cervetti (b1940) is an American composer but his origins lie in Uruguay.

He was a pupil of Krenek, among others, at the Peabody Conservatory in New York, graduating in 1967. Since then, Cervetti has distinguished himself in various professorial roles in the same city, and composed more than 150 works ranging from opera and vocal works to chamber, instrumental and electronic music.

Et in Arcadia ego (2017) is a fine example of his output, a bracing