Monday, 12 July 2010

CD Reviews (The Straits Times, July 2010)

MAHLER Symphony No.1 “Titan”
Orchestra of the Music Makers
CHAN TZE LAW, Conductor
OMM Live!

This is a “live” recording from a concert by the Orchestra of the Music Makers (OMM) in January 2010. For a youth orchestra (average age of players between 19 and 20) that is only a year and a half into its existence, the results are astounding. In Gustav Mahler’s First Symphony, a typically virtuosic orchestral calling card, the performance is strong in all departments. From its quiet rapt opening with the awakening of spring, through country dances and a funeral march, to the blazingly triumphant finale, there is a palpable sense of occasion and commitment in the playing throughout.

Guided by Chan Tze Law’s ultra-keen vision, homogeneous unity in string passages, lovingly crafted woodwind solos and a brass section any orchestra should be proud of were distinct hallmarks. While one does not expect absolute perfection, and there is rawness in the recorded sound, but that is besides the point. What Singaporean youngsters can achieve when they put their minds to it is the essence that makes this enterprise a totally rewarding experience.

This CD is available at OMM’s concerts, with all proceeds going to ChildAid.

STEVEN STUCKY Orchestral Works
Singapore Symphony Orchestra
SHUI LAN, Conductor
BIS CD-1622

The American Steven Stucky (born 1949) is the longstanding Consulting Composer for New Music of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. His Second Concerto for Orchestra (2003) was awarded the 2005 Pulitzer Prize in music, a brilliantly conceived work which eschews outright atonalism, but emphasises structure, tonal colour and dynamic drive. Exotic and piquantly flavoured textures and propulsive pace recall the Third Symphony and Concerto For Orchestra by the Polish master Witold Lutoslawski, on whom Stucky is an authority.

Spirit Voices (2002-3) showcases percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie in a 7-part concertante piece depicting star deities and spectral spirits from different world cultures. Injecting her own inimitable brand of exuberance, the vividly recorded performance complements the five colour-filled movements of Pinturas de Tamayo (Paintings of Tamayo, 1995), described as Stucky’s own Pictures At An Exhibition. These eventful 75 minutes amply illustrate the encouraging direction modern music is taking today.

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