The Concerto Project Vol.4
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Audio CD, October 11, 2011
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The Fourth Volume documenting the concertos by Philip Glass, this volume presents a brand new recording of the composers 2010 commission from the Nederlands Dans Theater, a Double Concerto for Violin, Cello and Orchestra featuring soloists Tim Fain and Wendy Sutter under the direction of Maestro Jurjen Hempel. The second concerto is the first piano concerto by Glass, the Tirol Concerto for Piano and String Orchestra performed by the Stuttgart Chamber Orchester with Dennis Russell Davies conducting from the keyboard.
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The Double Concerto is the second Glass concerto to introduce a new format with the flexibility of extracting solo pieces if an orchestra is not available. As in the Second Violin Concerto (American Four Seasons), sections with orchestra alternate with solo sections, here duets between cello and violin. The format is different however in that an ending with fireworks was not required, so the final section is a duet that ends on the peaceful tone that Glass has recently favored for concerti.
In both concerti the alternation of soloist and full orchestral accompaniment works extremely well, providing a very new kind of rhythm with a lot of potential for varied effects. As an example, and my favourite part of the Double Concerto, the second duet begins with soloists alternating with short musical fragments. As their contributions gradually become longer, they begin to overlap. When they finally join completely in a long, sweeping melody the effect is magical. The tone and harmony of this melodic conclusion is maintained as the second orchestral section begins with a dance-like rhythm. But in this section the theme gradually develops from a dance into a stately hymn and ultimately a blaring march that, given the snare drum accompaniment, seems to me like an outcry against the horrors of war. The tone then softens and same movement ends in a calm passage for soloists that leads nicely into the following soloist duet. This combination of firm structure and lyricism has long been a Glass hallmark and the Double Concerto represents an outstanding example.