- FLEX, concerto for orchestra
- Psalmos, sinfonia concertante for orchestra
- Concerto for orchestra
The Cincinnati Symphony has a long tradition of supporting contemporary music, one that has continued under French conductor Louis Langrée. All three of the pieces here were commissioned by the orchestra, and all fit the concerto for orchestra genre even if only one bears that name. The genre itself had a long history before Paul Hindemith gave it that name in 1925, including the Sinfonia Concertante referred to in the five-movement "Psalmos, sinfonia concertante pour orchestre" of Thierry Escaich. The form involves small groups of instruments that may interact with the larger orchestra as well as within themselves, breaking down into solos. The effect may be delicate, as in the "Concerto for Orchestra" of Chinese-American composer Zhou Tian (except for the last movement), and in all three works you can see the appeal of the form for a symphony orchestra seeking to create the pleasing effect of showcasing nearly all its instrumentalists. Perhaps the strongest of the three works is Sebastian Currier's "FLEX," which marries a high-energy dynamic to an evolving treatment of themes and a parade of historical references that come across less as witty or nostalgic than as expansions of the varied soundworld inherent in the form. The recording, on the Cincinnati Symphony's own Fanfare Cincinnati label, makes excellent use of the orchestra's acoustically superb Music Hall in downtown Cincinnati, especially well suited to picking individual lines out of the texture in music of this kind. The orchestration may generally be more memorable than the thematic material here, but this release, which snared two U.S. Grammy Award nominations (for Best Orchestral Recording and Best Contemporary Composition for Tian's piece) is recommended.