Friday, July 27, 2012

CCC 039 - Thomas Oboe Lee

Chinese-American composer Thomas Oboe Lee is our next candidate for the Consonant Classical Challenge. Lee has written almost 150 works, including 8 symphonies, 12 concertos, 12 string quartets as well as a wide variety of vocal, choral and instrumental chamber works.

While Lee uses consonant intervals to build his harmonies, his compositions sound neither dated nor derivative. His harmonies seem suspended in air, and his melodies drift through them in an evocative and deliberate manner. This is music that invites contemplation.

Persephone and the Four Seasons (2006) for oboe and orchestra well-represents Lee's overall compositional style.

Thomas Oboe Lee is deeply interested in jazz. His website has his list of American artistic genius past and present -- included along with Charles Ives are Miles Davis, Gerry Mulligan, Bill Evans, and many other jazz greats. Focus on Grace, Concerto for Jazz Saxophone and Orchestra (2010) demonstrates  how well Lee understands jazz, and how successfully he can incorporate it into his work.

I've heard three of Lee's symphonies, and they are all finely-crafted works that should be readily accessible to even the most hide-bound concert goer. They create their own introspective sonic worlds. Below is the fifth movement of Lee's second symphony . It seems to capture the very essence of serenity.

Thomas Oboe Lee has crafted an impressive catalog of music that's held in great esteem by chamber music performers. Why aren't his orchestral works programmed more often? I have no idea. They don't sound that technically difficult to play (but then, I'm not a conductor). His symphonies are of sufficient complexity and depth to reward the careful listener. Perhaps some adventuresome music director will take a chance. I'll keep hoping.

Recommended Recordings:
Lee: Morango... Almost a Tango

Lee: Stabat Mater

Thomas Oboe Lee: The Visconti- Sforza Tarot Cards and Other Works

No comments:

Post a Comment