MARK O’CONNOR: Double Violin Concerto; Appalachia Waltz; Johnny Appleseed Suite; Marching Along the Ohio Frontier; Johnny’s Apple Pie; Three Angel Brides; Amazing Grace – Mark O’Connor, Nadia Salerno-Sonnenberg, violins/Colorado Sym./Marin Alsop – Omac

by | Jul 1, 2008 | Classical CD Reviews | 0 comments

MARK O’CONNOR: Double Violin Concerto; Appalachia Waltz; Johnny Appleseed Suite; Marching Along the Ohio Frontier; Johnny’s Apple Pie; Three Angel Brides; The Life and Times of Johnny Appleseed; Amazing Grace – Mark O’Connor, Nadia Salerno-Sonnenberg, violins/ Colorado Symphony Orchestra/ Marin Alsop, conductor – Omac 8, 59:37 ***1/2:

There is no doubt about the talent of Mark O’Connor, and there is no questioning the abilities of Nadia Salerno-Sonnenberg, a favorite of mine – who has recorded the Best Sibelius concerto out there. Add Marin Alsop to the mix with a fine-sound CSO, and you would expect a winner. On many levels that is precisely what we have here, and the many O’Connor fans will likely be delighted with this.

For me, it was a letdown. The albums he is putting out are sounding too stereotyped to me. The unique blend of folksy, old-time, Dixieland, bluegrass music coupled with a nominal cross-pollination with the “classical” idiom (i.e., a concerto, as we have here) doesn’t have enough substance for me, sounding too much like a pops concert. Oh, much of it is quite pleasant—though the concerto is complex and long, it did not convince me despite the brilliance of the playing, but the two-violin duet of Appalachia Waltz, the delicate Three Angel Brides, and warm Amazing Grace certainly did. But I think that the main audience for this will be bluegrass fanciers and their ilk (which I am one), but mainly those perhaps not expecting something a little more “classically” oriented. Is it snobbery on my part? Maybe, but I think it more an aversion to mixed genres, as I generally find that the mixing process detracts from the strength of each ingredient, and there are few exceptions (but they do exist).

The sound is warm and comforting, production values high. If you know what you like, go for it.

— Steven Ritter

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