AUGUSTA READ THOMAS (b.1964): Prayer and Celebration for Chamber Orchestra, Of Paradise and Light for String Orchestra, Absolute Ocean for Soprano, Harp and Chamber Orchestra (Tony Arnold [soprano], Jennifer Hoult [harp]), Hemke Concerto "Prisms of Light" for Alto Saxophone and Orchestra (Frederick Hemke [sax]), Silent Moon for Violin and Cello (Katie Hyun [violin], Mihai Marica [cello]), 2 E.E. Cummings Songs for Girls' Chorus (Elm City Girls' Choir; Rebecca Rosenbaum & Tom Brand), Spells for Chorus (New York Virtuoso Singers; Harold Rosenbaum).
Catalogue Number: 11Q084
Reference: NI 6262
Description: Thomas is a distinctive voice in American music, working in an idiom in which rich harmony, usually based firmly around tonal centers, is a constant feature, coupled with lively, restless rhythmic energy and bright, colorful instrumentation. Nowhere are these characteristics more evident than in the dazzling concerto written this year to a commission for a retirement gift for the soloist who plays it here. The movements bear titles all pertaining to light, and the work abounds in sparkling interaction between the virtuosic solo part and luminous orchestral textures, beginning and ending in incandescent energy. The other large-scale work here is Absolute Ocean, setting poetry by e.e. cummings. Here the orchestral texture, with an important solo harp part, has a different luminous quality; translucent, spare chamber textures surround the enigmatic, lyrical, resonant texts with a shimmering aura. The gently lyrical Of Paradise and Light is an orchestral version of the second cummings song, and Prayer and Celebration is a gentle reflection of Barber's Adagio and Mahler's Adagietto. New Haven Symphony Orchestra; William Boughton.