Adams & Korngold: Violin Concertos / Gringolts

Album cover art for upc 5060189560660
Label: OM
Catalog: ORC100066
Format: CD

Copenhagen Philharmonic Orchestra; Salemkour, Julien; Gringolts, Ilya; Rouvali, Santtu-Matias

Two twentieth century violin concertos, stylistically polar opposites, but with a common emphasis on melody are presented here. Written by two very different composers who nevertheless, each in his own time, rejected the mid-20th century ascendancy of atonality and the serial composition of music, these pieces provide an interesting take on mid-century music. John Adams (b. 1947) is a composer who does not like to be pinned down. Being branded a minimalist has not suited him any better than did the confines of his training in the twelve-tone system while he was a student at Harvard. Adams has said that “it’s taken me 20 years to escape the corrosive effects of graduate school.” Indeed, his style has continued to evolve since his early association with the so-called minimalists Philip Glass and Steve Reich. Musicologist Richard Taruskin prefers the term “Pattern and Process” music, which highlights the tendency of these composers to set patterns in motion within dense, rhythmically complex textures, and then gradually morph these patterns over time. Erich Korngold’s Violin Concerto might be called “hypermelodic.” The composer himself noted that the concerto “with its many melodic and lyric episodes was contemplated rather for a Caruso of the violin than for a Paganini.” Written at a time in music history where atonality held nearly undisputed sway in musically sophisticated circles, the work was the first in what would become Korngold’s triumphant return to concert music. Russian violinist Ilya Gringolts, who wins over audiences with his extremely virtuosic playing and sensitive interpretations, performs this music.

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