A double CD with six new concertos is quite an event. Five years in the making, this is the inspiration of the famous publishing house Doberman-Yppan and its founder, Paul Gerrits.
En la Tierra, by Donald Crockett, is in one movement of several sections and is accompanied by a small chamber orchestra whose contrasting sounds add a subtle and varied background to the guitar, with the music ranging from aggressive to playful to sad, in a very modern idiom. Kaleidoscope, by Dusan Bogdanovic, is in three movements with jazz elements that immediately jump out at you, complete with note bends that sound like they have come straight from a rock guitar. Interestingly, all three movements are based on the same material, with moments of complex rhythms and advanced tonality thrown in—and the last movement is dance-like and full of animation. A Fanciful Plainte, by Brian Head, begins with exotic string chords before the guitar enters, continuing the idea. The two then carry on a complex conversation moving ideas back and forth. The music is mostly in a modern but friendly idiom, with moments of dense string layering often accompanying the soloist.
CD 2 begins with Steven Gate’s three-movement Mystery of Constellation, which concerns the composer’s emotional reactions to the night sky. It is in a noticeably astringent idiom, with the orchestra often acting as a more equal partner and the writing a mixture of the contemplative and the exceedingly animated.
Cuento Desde la Frontera is a new work by Simone Iannarelli that has a connection with a poem of the same name by the composer. Set in one movement, this “Tale from the Border” is less tonal than the other works and has many beautiful moments of emotive writing.
The final piece, Prayers, also by Bogdanovic, is set in one movement for two guitars and orchestra. After a plaintive string opening, the two soloists continue with haunting melodies that exotically interweave, although the pace throughout remains slow.
This fine pair of CDs proves how much variety there is in the modern concerto.
En La Tierra: Six 21st-Century Guitar Concertos
Brian Head, William Kanengiser, Scott Tennant, James Smith, Martha Masters (guitars), with USC Thornton Edge, Donald Crockett conductor