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Posted October 1, 2010
There is much to like in this Naxos American Classics recording featuring the music of Paul Fetler, which is the first devoted exclusively to his work. Included on this disc are his Violin Concerto No. 2, Capriccio, and Three Poems by Walt Whitman. The concerto for me is the highlight, showcasing his elegant and urgent lyricism throughout all three movements. Fetler's melodies are full of yearning yet never sound cloying, and are wonderfully embroidered with impressionistic sound colors and accents. Moreover, Fetler maintains perfect balance between the violin and orchestral passages, never letting the latter overwhelm the former, even during the overtly dramatic and propulsive third movement. The composer's Capriccio is much lighter in tone, marked by balletic rhythms and spirited melodies, and evokes Debussy in its shimmering atmospheres. I'm somewhat less enamored of the Three Poems by Walt Whitman. That's no knock on Fetler's evocative musical settings, which effectively complement the emotional and thematic tenor of Whitman's verse (narrated by the poet Thomas H. Blaske). As much as I like Whitman's poetry, and as much as I appreciate Fetler's musical underscore, I've never warmed to the combination of spoken poetry and classical music, which to my ear comes off as a little stiff and portentous. (That kind of thing seems to work much better with jazz-Jean Shepherd's improvised narration on Charles Mingus' "The Clown," for example.) All in all, however, this recording is a fine introduction to a composer long deserving of greater recognition.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.