Mark O'Connor, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, violins; John Jarvis, piano; Bryan
Sutton, guitar. Colorado Symphony, Marin Alsop, cond.
OMAC 8, 59:39
Review by Steve
The Double Violin Concerto is a delight, played with aplomb. It begins
with a string figure well-known to aficionados of disco-music ca. 1977, and
soon hits the barnyard, all the while totally steering clear of that turkey
in the straw. Excellent solo and duo sections, and again - you can't use the
word aplomb twice, and panache is too hi-falutin'. This opening movement is
titled "Swing." II ("Midnight On The Dance Room Floor")
is unfortunately gooey at the start, and alludes to everything American from
Copland to Gershwin and Korngold, but it is deliciously orchestrated and ultimately,
charming. It closes in "Dixieland," cake-walking and spotlighting
the clarinet, of course, but it's, naturally, the fiddling which is featured.
After all, this is a concerto for two violins. None of the Double Concerto
is tacky; it shouldn't be labelled "crossover," however it would be
a shame if it didn't sell in crossover quantities.
Appalachia Waltz for violin duo is subtle and quite tender.
The Johnny Appleseed
Suite is in four movements, runs eighteen minutes, and is slight; it could
easily be used for a teevee movie soundtrack: each movement could be called
a theme: "Marching Along The Ohio Frontier," with flute and guitar
featured, "Johnny's Apple Pie," "Three Angel Brides," and
"The Life and Times of Johnny Appleseed." I guess I was close: the
liner notes explain this was written for a "folk ensemble" for a children's
recording narrated by Garrison Keillor.
The disc closes
with a brief arrangement of "Amazing Grace" for violin and orchestra.
I still laud the
Double Concerto. Kudos to all the players.