ULYSSES KAY (1917-1995): Suite from The Quiet One, 3 Pieces After Blake for Soprano and Orchestra, Scherzi Musicali, Aulos for Flute and Chamber Orchestra.
Catalogue Number: 10J084
Reference: TROY 961
Description: A fine composer of genuine substance, Kay has never achieved the recognition one might anticipate for a thoroughly approachable figure working within the American mainstream yet with a recognisably individual voice. As demonstrated by this selection of works from the 1940s through the 60s, he never came close to relinquishing tonality, though there is a greater degree of chromaticism and dissonance in later years, in part perhaps in response to national and world events that seemed to call for a more strident personal voice. The suite was arranged by the composer from music for a documentary film and consists of four characterful scenes which adhere to a neoclassical idiom, with slight jazz inflections as appropriate. The powerful imagery of Blake's poetry evoked music of greater originality and slightly more modernist leanings a few years later; unstable meters and colorful orchestration underline the visionary texts splendidly. Scherzi is effectively a chamber symphony, occupying a world of some tonal ambiguity and rather darker in tone and mood than the title suggests. T he brief flute concerto employs some jazz elements, though always in a tightly structured context, as always with this composer. Further volumes in his series leading to a fuller retrospective of Kay's output will be very welcome (and are apparently anticipated). Janet Hopkins (soprano), Melanie Valencia (flute), Metropolitan Philharmonic Orchestra; Kevin Scott.