Friday, July 20, 2012

CCC 038 - George Walker

Our next entrant in the Consonant Classical Challenge. is Pulitzer prize-winning composer George Walker. Walker is an American composer who studied with Samuel Barber. And you can hear a little of Barber's influence in his music.

Like Barber, Walker's most successful orchestral work started out the slow movement to a string quartet. And not only that, but it's the slow movement. Still, it's easy to understand the popularity of Lyric for Strings. It features dense, rich harmony overlaid with a serene, sinuous melody.

George Walker has composed almost 100 works, mostly solo and chamber music. His orchestral works tend to be small-scale, but that's not to say they're slight compositions. Rather, they're exquisite miniatures.

Icarus in Orbit, written a few years ago, is a good example of Walker's orchestration techniques. It has a very open sound to it that some consider a hallmark of American classical music (ala Copland).

Another interesting work, written in 2009, is Walker's Da Camera for Piano Trio, Harp, Celesta, Strings, and Percussion. Walker uses the contrast between the solo instruments and the string ensemble to great effect. Lanky, loose-limbed melodies alternate with tight string harmonies, combining to great effect.

George Walker is a gifted composer who writes in a very accessible style, while continuing to come up with beautiful melodies that are neither trite nor derivative. Although Lyric for Strings is his best-known work, it's still criminally under-programmed (in my opinion). Walker is a genuine American voice that should be heard, and heard more often.

There's nothing in his music that should scare away the blue-hairs, and plenty there to satisfy listeners craving substance and originality. What's not to like?

Recommended Recording:s

George Walker: Orchestral Works

The Music Of George Walker

Lilacs: The Music of George Walker

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