JENNIFER HIGDON (b.1962): Viola Concerto, Oboe Concerto, All Things Majestic.
Catalogue Number: 04S077
Description: Sensing that viola concerti tend to emphasize the instrument's dark-toned character to the point of lugubriosness, Higdon set out to write a more upbeat work, in which the viola's eloquent songfulness comes to the fore. The result, cast in a very tonal, neo-Romantic idiom like the other works here, is a great success. The first movement is the slowest and most dramatic; the second a kind of scherzo with much jazzy syncopation, and this sense of lively vernacular carries over to the finale, which suggests folk-fiddling and a feeling of celebratory well-being. The single-span oboe concerto also concentrates attention on the instrument's lyrical nature; perhaps because of long-standing associations with the oboe in this mood, the piece is reminiscent of English pastoral works featuring the instrument, though the work's various sections also encompass some fine dramatic episodes as well as a jazzy playfulness which is distinctly American. All Things Majestic is a four-movement suite of impressions of the natural wonders of our National Parks; the grandeur of the mountains, a serene reflection on the serenity of lakes reflecting the sky, a scherzo depicting the rushing energy of cascading waters, and finally images of the natural world as an awe-inspiring cathedral of vertiginous scale and majesty. Roberto Díaz (viola), James Button (oboe), Nashville Symphony; Giancarlo Guerrero.