The Composer’s Voice/ New Music From Bowling Green, Volume III – Bowling Green Philharmonia / Emily Freeman Brown, conductor – Albany Records

by | Aug 15, 2005 | Classical CD Reviews | 0 comments

“The Composer’s Voice” = New Music From Bowling Green, Volume
III –  Bowling Green Philharmonia / Emily Freeman Brown, conductor
– Albany Records TROY633, ****:

Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green,Ohio,  while not
quite thought of as a household resource for excellence in music
making, by sponsoring releases such as this is staking its claim to a
ranking comparable to that of the more established Eastern music
schools. The Bowling Green Philharmonia was founded in 1918 and has
grown to a finely disciplined ensemble of over 100 instrumentalists.The
orchestra performs regularly at the University’s New Music and Arts
Festival. The pieces on this disc were performed and recorded at this
festival in 1998 and 2000.

New Music for Bowling Green Vol.3  features the Bowling Green
Philharmonia conducted by Emily Freeman Brown with soloists. Blue
Cathedral by Jennifer Higdon, commissioned by the Curtis Institute of
Music to commemorate its seventy fifth anniversary, is an orchestral
journey/tour de force toward that place where “our souls carry us.”
This dynamic, compelling music reaches a crescendo of great power and
is performed with deep conviction by the Bowling Green Orchestra under
Ms. Brown.

The Dorothy Parker Songs by Braxton Blake incorporate Parker’s famous
wit with an aching sense of lonliness. The four songs are: “Ultimatum”,
“Salome’s Dancing Lesson”, “Midnight” and “The Little Old Lady in
Lavender Silk”. These poems reveal Parker at her most witty, and at
times most naughty. They are sung  deftly with expert inflection
by Freda Herseth, beautifully accompanied by the orchestra under Emily
Freeman Brown.  Elegantly crafted by the composer Braxton Blake,
these songs are for me the highlight of this excellent disc.

Lightscape, a 13 minute tone poem for orchestra by Daniel S. Godfrey,
evokes the play of light among the islands of mid-coast Maine. I live
in this area and am struck at how resonant Mr. Godfrey is with the many
hues and patterns of light one finds looking out to sea among these
islands. This piece works very well; the performance is first rate.

The John Williams Concerto for Tuba and Orchestra is a virtuoso piece
for a seemingly lugubrious, but as played by Velvet Brown, quite an
agile instrument -the tuba. Like other  John Williams’ music, this
concerto is beautifully crafted and replete with melody. It provides at
last another worthy vehicle for tuba and orchestra in addition to the
long treasured Vaughn Williams Tuba Concerto.

A fine disc, featuring an excellent, well recorded student orchestra,
showcases four American composers who have musically much to say. There
are brief pertinent introductory comments prior to each selection
provided by Ms. Higdon, Messrs. Blake and Godfrey and Ms. Brown.
 
Very worthwhile!

– Ronald Legum
 

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