- Shadows (4) Dirge-Nocturnes, for orchestra
- The Glass Bead Game, for orchestra
- The Mystic Trumpeter, for orchestra
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Claude Baker: The Glass Bead Game based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
This new Naxos release showcasing the music of Indiana based American composer Claude Baker is such a welcome addition for several reasons! First, these recordings took place in the 1990s when Baker was a composer-in-residence with the St.Louis Symphony. Baker spent eight years as composer-in-residence for St. Louis, while Leonard Slatkin was music director. Slatkin and the SLSO were nationally known for pioneering the work of American composers to great success. During that time, Baker composed five large-scale works for the orchestra and two pieces d'occasion. Baker's eight-year association with the SLSO is also the longest such residency to date of any composer with a major orchestra in the United States. Baker is a true Renaissance man. His work as an educator extends well beyond the realm of academia (presently with the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University). During his years with the Saint Louis Symphony, he developed a number of community-based initiatives that were aimed at providing creative opportunities in composition for young people. In appreciation of his contributions to the musical life of the city, the University of Missouri-St. Louis awarded him an honorary doctorate in 1999. So, this recording presents a vibrant look at an important period in the history of the St.Louis Symphony and provides a rewarding glimpse into the artistry of Mr. Baker, who certainly deserves to be heard more often. These are colorful and exciting works that reveal Baker to be a creative and innovative orchestrator with a keen awareness of the styles around him. For example, The Glass Bead Game is based on the philosophies found in the novel of the same name by Hermann Hesse. Each of the three movements also takes its inspiration from the writings, in which scholars must participate in a complicated game requiring complete concentration. This music, itself, is complex but fascinating to listen to. Baker's writing evokes and nearly quotes the work of other composers in a very deferential way. This trend can be heard in Glass Bead Game as well as in Shadows: Four Dirge-Nocturnes, which echoes Mahler, Britten and Stravinsky. In Shadows, Baker's inspiration comes from Japanese haiku and the funereal tone is dramatic and bold. Baker acknowledges that Awaking the Winds is his most "absolute" form, wherein there are no quotations and references and no "meaning" behind the music. This is, none the less, a very ethereal and attractive work. He does utilize direct literary references in his The Mystic Trumpeter which, in two movements, evokes the words of Walt Whitman. "The Mystic Trumpeter" itself is a fairly long and elegiac essay on the tragedy of war. Baker uses a fair amount of reference to the works of others; most notably the eerie (but wholly appropriate) trumpet calls from Ives "The Unanswered Question." This is a very effective and moody work. Baker acknowledges in the booklet notes that a lot of his music is "delicate" and "eastern" so it is not surprising that these pieces contain very little outburst but a great deal of very creative use of tone color and unusual combinations of percussion. I strongly encourage you to check out this disc for the wonderful music of Claude Baker as well as to have another strong example of the legacy of the St.Louis Symphony and the important devotion to the music of living American composers begun by the wonderful Maestro Slatkin.