- Javelin, overture for orchestra
- Concerto for saxophone
- December, for string orchestra
- Run, for orchestra
- Charcoal, for orchestra
Versatile in a wide variety of genres, skilled in orchestration, and extroverted in outlook, Michael Torke is one of the most accessible and appealing composers of the postmodern generation. Yet his facility and readiness to adapt to expectations sometimes make his music seem derivative and forced, and Three presents some of Torke's most artificial pieces. The vapid Olympic theme, "Javelin"; the flashy "Run"; and the bombastic "Charcoal" may entertain with their bright colors, open tonality, and energetic rhythms, and audiences will gladly accept them as pop concert fare. On repeated listening, though, these crowd-pleasers yield few rewards, and the constant use of motor rhythms, fluttering tremolos, and punchy polychords suggest too much borrowing from Stravinsky's "Firebird" and "Petrushka." However, the "Saxophone Concerto" and "December for string orchestra" are more complex and personally expressive works, and Torke's refinements of minimalism through a neo-Classical filter are truer to his voice and more representative of his best work. Torke's performance of "December" with the Philharmonia Orchestra is subtle and convincing, and saxophonist John Harle makes the "Concerto" distinctive with his famous snarling tone. The rest of the performances by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra are gaudy and shallow, and not worth serious attention.