DAVID CHESKY: Urbanicity; Concerto for Electric Guitar and Orch.; The New York Variations – Bryan Baker, elec. guitar/ Urbanicity Orch. of New York/ David Chesky – Chesky Records

by | Apr 23, 2011 | Classical CD Reviews | 0 comments

DAVID CHESKY: Urbanicity; Concerto for Electric Guitar and Orchestra; The New York Variations – Bryan Baker, electric guitar (in Concerto)/ Urbanicity Orchestra of New York/ David Chesky – Chesky Records HQCD351, 1 hour ****:

These three works – all in three movements – are David Chesky’s effort to mix the wild rhythms and spunkiness of rock with thru-composed classical music. Others have attempted this in the past, with the symphonic works of Frank Zappa probably being the most successful. There was of course the Third Stream movement, but that was more of a blending of jazz and classical.  A number of pop and rock composer-performers have been recently trying their hands at creating composed classical works, with varying degrees of success. These are all three exciting and super-contemporary works, well-performed by the orchestra Chesky has put together and superbly reproduced with Chesky Records’ high audio standards and released on this advanced-mastering High Quality compatible stereo CD.
The Guitar Concerto is the centerpiece of the album, and although other new music composers have created works involving the electric guitar (in some cases a hundred of them at once), Chesky’s composition strikes a unique pose as a major concerto effort featuring the electric guitar as the solo instrument.  Bryan Baker had to spend eight hours a day learning the difficult score, which makes use of the instrument’s super-wide range of expression and highlights its origins in rock and pop music. One might almost call it a heavy metal concerto.
The opening and closing works are both ballets, full of many changes and contrasts of idioms and influences from pop, rock and new music worlds. I found the closing New York Variations the most to my liking, with more of a classical bent and somewhat less of the relentless musical attack of the other two works. I longed for just a bit more melodic material thruout all three works, but that’s just me. Fans of new music, rock and  the electric guitar will probably find this CD right up their alley. By the way, the interesting cover and inside photographs by Steve Guttenberg are closeups of electronic circuits and may cause one to deduce these works involve electronica.  They don’t – the Urbanicity Orchestra is acoustic except for the electric guitar.
— John Sunier

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