WALTER SAUL (b.1954): Kiev 2014 for Oboe and Orchestra, Violin Concerto, Overture for the Jubilee, From Life to Greater Life, A Christmas Symphony, Metamorphosis for Piano and Orchestra.
Catalogue Number: 10R073
Description: Saul's music abounds in Christian symbolism and concern with social issues, expressed in approachable terms though without naïveté and a full acknowledgement of conflict and complexity. The attractive concertante Rhapsody pays tribute to Ukraine, compressing a history of invasion and revolution (martial, motoric music), hope and optimism for the future (melodic solo material) into a brief, tonal tone-poem. The 1980 violin concerto is sterner stuff, musically, the tripartite first movement representing the Holy Trinity - an imposing Old Testament God, a consoling, tonal Son and the spiritual ecstasy of the Spirit. The second movement is an energetic passacaglia, in narrative sonata form, based on a twelve-note row and ebbing and flowing in tonality as its symbolic journey progresses. The jubilant Overture celebrates abolitionist President John Quincy Adams in triumphantly affirmative fanfares and flourishes, while the very tonal, succinct symphony paints four scenes from the Christmas story, exultant, mysterious, humorously picturesque and touchingly lyrical. The other two pieces, substantial tone-poems both, are early, representing aspects of spiritual growth and transformation in a tough, Bartókian language, tonal nonetheless, but with the uncompromising fervor of youth clearly apparent. Rong-Huey Liu (oboe), James Buswell (violin), Walter Saul (piano), National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine; Theodore Kuchar.