Echoes: Classic Works Transformedby Gerard Schwarz
This album has been released in different forms, including a regular appearance in the catalog of the Naxos label and a turn in the spotlight backed by the mighty marketing apparatus of the Starbucks coffeehouse chain. It thus has been made to serve several different purposes and can be evaluated in various ways. The album offers pieces by seven contemporary composers, including Seattle Symphony conductor Gerard Schwarz himself, that are somehow based on preexisting works. As a vehicle for getting classical music and the names of contemporary composers into the hands of coffee drinkers who may hear it over their frappuccinos, it works fairly well. The sequence of events is musically varied, with fresh but crowd-pleasing selections. David Schiff's somewhat rock-flavored treatment of the "Infernal Dance" from Stravinsky's "Firebird" makes an attention-grabbing opening. David Stock's "Plenty of Horn," based on the familiar "Trumpet Voluntary" of Jeremiah Clarke, gives even the absolute novice a likely place to hang his or her hat but treats its model in a novel way, assembling the melody from fragments and layers of register. As an examination of how classical models are "echoed" in contemporary music the album is less successful. There are certainly pieces of individual interest; in addition to those mentioned thus far, one might add John Harbison's "Rubies," a startling classical rethinking of a jazz composition, Thelonious Monk's "Rubies." This work deserves wider exposure, for it is situated right at the spot where classical music and jazz diverge but maintain certain ties. Some of the other works are close to being straight arrangements, however, and the program as a whole doesn't make a coherent statement. Nevertheless, Schwarz, Starbucks, and the Seattle Symphony deserve credit for going beyond the usual formula of classical encore favorites as an introductory disc.
- Release Date:
- Naxos American
Performance CreditsGerard Schwarz Primary Artist
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