Friday, February 03, 2012

CCC 016 - Samuel Adler

American composer Samuel Adler is next on our Consonant Classical Challenge list. Adler's a respected composer and is currently on the faculty of the Julliard School. Among his many students who've gone on to successful careers is Eric Ewazen, who we've featured earlier in this series.

Adler might not be familiar to the average concert-goer, but he's well-known in professional circles where he's accumulated numerous awards and citations. He's written over 400 works, including six symphonies, three piano concertos and many other orchestral, chamber, and choral compositions.

In his viola concerto, you can hear the major elements of his style. The orchestration is solid, and somewhat traditional. His harmonic language is original, but certainly not outre. And his melodic lines are interesting and engaging.

In his work"Requiescat in Pace," (a 1963 composition written in response to JFK's assassination) you can hear influences of American composers such as Aaron Copland. But Adler's compositional voice is clearly his own.

Samuel Adler writes music that's meant to communicate in a meaningful way with the audience, which (in my opinion) makes him one of those composers who should be programmed more often. Personally, I think a few less warhorses and few more fresh-sounding compositions (like Adler's) might be welcome to both old and new audiences alike.

Recommended Recordings  
Samuel Adler: Symphony No. 5 "We Are the Echoes"; Nuptial Scene; The Binding (Milken Archive of American Jewish Music)

Piston, Harbison, Adler: Viola Concertos

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