Entertainment » Music

Corigliano: Conjurer & Vocalise

by Steven Bergman
Contributor
Monday Nov 18, 2013
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Few living composers have received the accolades and respect as the American, John Corigliano (b. 1938). With credits as noted and diverse as "Mr. Tamborine Man: Seven Poems of Bob Dylan" (Academy Award, 1999), the opera "Ghosts of Versailles" (International Classical Music Award, 1992), and his "Symphony No. 2" (Pulitzer Prize, 2001), Corigliano continues to receive commissions from the finest musicians around the world.

This new release from Naxos contains two of Corigliano’s pieces performed by the finest artists in their genre. Titled, "Conjurer / Vocalise," the first work is a percussion concerto written for Dame Evelyn Glennie, the exquisitely talented percussionist, who may single-handedly be responsible for bringing notoriety to the frequently overlooked area of percussion compositions. "Conjurer" (2007) is divided into six movements, with each pair of movements featuring one aspect of the percussion section. Whether you’re listening to "Cadenza II / Metal" which focuses on the chimes and the vibraphone, or "Cadenza I / Wood" featuring the xylophone and marimba, Glennie’s expert technique, and execution of Corigliano’s writing, is enrapturing. The orchestra is utilized as a background instrument throughout, and their appearance is hardly necessary with Glennie’s playing in the foreground.

"Vocalise" is a single movement piece, originally commissioned in 1999 by Kurt Masur as a recognition of the new millennium. Here it is performed by the soprano Hila Plitmann and the Albany Symphony, under the direction of David Alan Miller. A wordless composition for voice, Corigliano explores the evolution of vocal performance, with the melding of the acoustic (the orchestra) and electronic (the singing is both acoustic and synthesized) worlds of classical music, and it is presented wonderfully by Plitmann and the orchestra.

This recording is intriguing, and is a highly recommended listen.

"Conjurer / Vocalise"
John Corigliano / Dame Evelyn Glennie
CD and digital formats
Naxos Records

Steven Bergman is a Composer / Playwright / Performing Arts Educator based outside of Boston, MA.

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