Taliban Dances, concerto for violin & orchestra
Pieces (3) for piano
- Normandy: June 6, 1944, for trumpet & orchestra (06:05)
- Piano Attacks, for piano (01:35)
- Le Voyage dans la Lune, for orchestra (02:13)
American-born Robert Ian Winstin is the composer-in-residence and principal guest conductor of the Kiev Philharmonic. This disc collects an assortment of his music for orchestra and solo piano. His intriguingly titled "Taliban Dances," a five-movement concerto for violin, is the most substantial piece on the CD and also the weirdest, but not necessarily in a good sense. It's difficult to take the piece seriously after having read the fatuous (and disturbing) program notes, which describe one movement as "a poignantly humorous look at war which features a surprising descending slide whistle (incoming!) and the popping of balloons to signify the dropping of bombs." If such a trivialization of the suffering caused by war was not enough to repel the listener, the music itself is not striking enough to generate much interest. Its facile eclecticism -- a mix of modernism, neo-Romanticism, minimalism, and the appropriation of music of the Middle East -- makes it easily forgettable, and the fact that it concludes by quoting "Dixie" does nothing to elevate it. "Normandy: June 6, 1944," written for the 60th anniversary of D Day, is a more serious and respectful work, but it falls into the cliché of cinematically sweeping sentimentality. The clever and concise piano pieces are the musically most satisfying works on the CD. Winstin leads the Kiev Philharmonic in committed performances and performs the piano solos, as well. The sound is clean and present.