SUSAN BOTTI (b.1962): Concerto for Saxophone and Wind Ensemble “sull’ala”, JESS LANGSTON TURNER (b.1983): Concerto for Tuba and Wind Ensemble “Heavy Weather”, STEPHEN MICHAEL GRYC (b.1949): Concerto for Bassoon, Winds and Percussion “Guignol”.

Catalogue Number: 03V068

Label: Naxos

Reference: 8.574087

Format: CD

Price: $12.98

Description: Three approachable and enjoyable concerti, as different as their solo instruments but in the familiar bold, colorful, very tonal vocabulary that brings out the best in composers inclined toward the wind orchestra genre. Botti's piece is inspired by ideas about flight. The first movement is energetic and propulsive, its persistent rhythmic sections suggesting something engine-propelled and a little frantic in its efforts to hurl itself through the air. The second movement, "Torque" turns in lazy, soaring circles, the fluid motion and harmony of the music suggesting vast wings effortlessly riding thermal updrafts. The main movements are separated by "murmurations" for saxophone ensemble, the first tracing fluid patterns in the air at a distance, the second noisily busy in the trees close by. This frenetic activity continues into the last movement, with every kind of whirling, tumbling aerial activity in the hyperactive percussion-driven opening section; eventually only the huge, slow air currents remain. Turner’s concerto is in two movements, Heatwave and Supercell. The first begins drowsily, the tuba seemingly having difficulty to stir itself to any activity in the shimmering, increasingly oppressive air, lazily eddying in winds, percussion, and muted brass. Gradually the soloist leads rumbling brass and drums in depicting the soaring of climactic thunderheads, rising ominously to the heights. This paves the way for the clash of unstable air masses that herald a thunderstorm. Turner builds the tension superbly here; the gathering clouds, the first sprinkles of rain, the thunder rolling closer, the first lightning strike - and one of the most graphic storms in the musical literature since Strauss' is unleashed. Eventually the roiling skies clear and absolute calm settles over the landscape. Guignol was a mischievous puppet character of the early 19th century. Gryc has the bassoon play the witty, loquacious and clever puppet in three short scenes laid out like a traditional concerto, with neoclassical elegance and verve, and sly references to other composers' music thrown in like the satirical asides of the original puppet shows.

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