Thursday, December 17, 2015
Walter Saul a welcome discovery
Case in point, Saul's 1992 Christmas Symphony. This is no medley of holiday tunes, but a tightly-organized four-movement symphony that uses oblique elements of the Christmas story (Gabriel, the Star, Simeon, and heavenly Glorias) to document an emotional journey. It's one of those works that may be inspired by the season, but could be played any time of the year.
"Overture for the Jubilee" and "From Life to Greater Life" - like virtually all of Saul's music --draw on the composer's deep-seated religious convictions for inspiration. The Overture is an uplifting, yet restrained, concert opener. "From Life" moves from chaos to order as it progresses (thus illustrating its theme of ascending from life to afterlife).
The Violin Concerto is the most adventurous work on the album, with a snarling twelve-tone middle movement that resolves eventually into some beautiful lyrical passages in the finale.
"Kiev 2014" is an engaging work for oboe and orchestra. Its relentless energy keeps driving the music forward. According to the composer, it "reflects on the history, challenges and hope for Ukraine in the 21st century." And that perhaps explains the restless nature of this work.
The album is warmly recorded, with the National Symphony Orchestra of the Ukraine under Theodore Kuchar delivering straight-forward no-nonsense performances.
Walter Saul: Kiev 2014; Violin Concerto; Overture for the Jubilee; A Christmas Symphony; Metamorphosis
National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine; Theodore Kuchar, conductor
Rong-Huey Liu, oboe; James Buswell, violin; Walter Saul, piano