MELINDA WAGNER (b.1957): Trombone Concerto (Joseph Alessi [trombone], New York Philharmonic Orchestra; Lorin Maazel), Wick (New York New Music Ensemble; Jeffrey Milarsky), 4 Settings for Soprano, Flute, Clarinet, String Trio, Double Bass and Piano (Christine Brandes [soprano], Laura Gilbert [flute], Alan Kay [clarinet], Curtis Macomber [violin], Richard O'Neill [viola], Fred Sherry [cello], John Feeney [double bass], Stephen Gosling [piano]).
Catalogue Number: 09N081
Description: The impressive concerto was inspired by the idea of mountain ranges - not too much should be made of this, as the work is not programmatic, but the music is certainly imbued with a sense of rugged grandeur and mystery, traits that the trombone is especially effective at projecting. The central movement is harmonically rich and sensuous; the finale a lively, syncopated, leaping dance, interrupted by a darker reminiscence of the slow movement. The songs are atmospheric, to match the texts, all of which treat some aspect of the contrast between opposites, with felicitous touches of instrumental color to illuminate the soaring vocal line. Wick is an explosively energetic scherzo for ensemble, its breathless opening and closing sections separated by a calm and meditative center. The composer's vocabulary is that of the weightless, shifting modality resulting from the alternating tone-semitone scales frequently employed by composers of our time who enjoy the harmonic trappings of tonality while avoiding the restrictions of its key relationships; a particularly fertile idiom for Wagner's richly narrative dramatic fantasies.