Diverse and accessible concertos from a champion of modern music.
DAVID STOCK: Concertos = Concierto Cubano; Oborama; Percussion Concerto – Andrew Cardenes, violin/ Alex Klein, oboes/Lisa Pegher, percussion/ Boston Modern Orchestra Project/Gil Rose – BMOP Sound 1047, multichannel SACD, 60:10 ****:
David Stock (1939-2015) is one of those unknown champions of modern music. In 1976 he founded the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble and for 40 years they premiered music of nearly 300 contemporary composers. He was Professor of Music at Duquesne University for 19 years. While he performed a wide variety of modern music of his time, his compositions eschewed the more esoteric cerebral strain so common in academia. “It took a while to realize that the ‘normal’ climb-the-ladder academic path wasn’t my path,” he commented. His music is dramatic, melodic and thematically interesting, making an immediate impact on his audiences. As composer-in-residence with the Pittsburgh and Seattle Symphonies, Stock had many opportunities to compose and perform his own music.
His vibrant Concierto Cubano (2000) for violin and string orchestra, opens with Cuban soloist Andrew Cardenas (Concertmaster of the Pittsburgh Symphony for 20 years) taking upper-register virtuosic turns against low-register string accompaniment. A singing, calm but enigmatically unsettled middle movement is followed by rhythmic and high spirited celebration of Cuban dancing. Cardenas plays with the panache and energy.
Oborama (2010) is a tribute to the oboe family and its distant relatives. Each movement highlights a specific instrument and the emotional tone of the music matches it. The English horn (1. Dark, somber); the musette—piccolo oboe—(2. Crisp, bright); the oboe d’ amore (3. Graceful, wistful); bass oboe (4. Dark, solemn); oboe (5. Very fast). Alex Klein, for ten years the Principal Oboe of the Chicago Symphony, is the superb instrumental guide. The change in instruments provide contrast and the work is an intriguing excursion for listeners.
The Percussion Concerto (2007) starts with slightly dissonant strings, immediately interrupted by a variety of drum and trumpet chords. A variety of percussion instruments take solo turns that showcase soloist Lisa Peghler’s considerable skills. The mood is upbeat, with brass and strings sharing the spotlight. The marimba takes center stage in the second movement, “Introspective.” There’s an unsettling mood to the music, crossing into the realm of the creepy at times. The final movement is an up-tempo percussive extravaganza that demonstrates Ms. Peghler’s virtuosity, without sacrificing the vigorous rhythmic energy that is a characteristic of Stock’s music. The orchestra even gets into the act by clapping.
The music on this well-recorded and performed disc glows with warm-blooded exuberance and dramatic variety. It is a fitting tribute to David Stock’s passion for new music and his compositional excellence.