Morton Gould is most famous for his colorful light music and arrangements, always attractive, tuneful and marvelously scored, and often drawing on popular music and folk music in original and unexpected ways. But he also wrote more serious concert music, and the disc at hand really gives us the full gamut of Gould’s compositional interests. The Jekyll and Hyde Variations is a rarity. Commissioned by Mitropoulos, it was one of Gould’s chances to try his hand at more serious music, and the results are telling. As a matter of fact, the variations are written in dodecaphonic, serial style, though you may not be able to tell on first listening – much of the music sounds modal, and in the Jekyll variations sometimes almost hymn-like. It is based on a series of gestures that are permuted, rearranged and re-colored. It is interesting, often ingenious, and very deftly crafted.
But the point cannot really have been to be taken seriously, for why would Gould then have chosen a title like this? Yes, we do hear the difference between the Jekyll-like and Hyde-like variations – all thirteen of them – and Gould doesn’t shy away from using rather typical “scary”, dissonant gestures. Perhaps it was to underline the narrative structure of the work – though it is hard to discern anything paralleling the traditional story here, the music does indeed build narrative momentum. Or perhaps it was – maybe more likely – to emphasize that the distinction between serious art music and light music isn’t, or shouldn’t be, viewed as particularly stark – it is possible to write light and accessible music even deploying avant-garde or avant-gardish techniques (with a mild criticism of "art composers" who take themselves perhaps a bit too seriously). In any case, it is an interesting, often fascinating work, even though it does not quite to reach the level at which I would deem it a masterpiece – clever and effective, yes, but not really managing to leave a lasting impression.
The ballet Fall River Legend is much more familiar, though Naxos gives us (unusually) the complete work, including the narrator part. Musically, Copland is sometimes brought to mind, but more in terms of technique and orchestral coloration than in atmosphere, and despite the thoroughly “American” quality of the work I am often reminded of Prokofiev’s ballets. The (relative) popularity of the work is understandable, for it is full of good tunes and color – indeed, the themes seem to get more on more appealing as the work gets going. It also contains plenty of drama and atmosphere, and Gould is certainly an expert at narrative ebb and flow. What is missing, perhaps, is a strong overall arch, though that may perhaps be a bit much to ask from a work like this (and perhaps that's why it is not entirely objectionable to cut some parts of it) – thoroughly enjoyable it is, at least.
The Nashville Symphony Orchestra plays with flair and panache, and generates plenty of color, and Kenneth Schermerhorn leads them often brilliantly. Sometimes, though, the textures seem to become a little too dense, and sometimes in the variations the performers seem just a little bit unsure about where to go next. Still, these are overall very impressive performances of enjoyable and intriguing music.
Fall River Legend
- Is Discontinued By Manufacturer : いいえ
- 製品サイズ : 12.7 x 14.61 x 1.14 cm; 102.63 g
- メーカー : Naxos American
- EAN : 0636943924228
- オリジナル盤発売日 : 2005
- SPARSコード : DDD
- レーベル : Naxos American
- ASIN : B000BK53HE
- ディスク枚数 : 1
A good Gould addition2012年8月14日にアメリカ合衆国でレビュー済み
I am glad that these two works appear together on the same CD. They balance each other so beautifully. The "Variations" is a wonderful Gould piece that is too often overlooked. My big criticism here is that both pieces are played a little too carefully and lack the fire that Gould intended. The Nashville Symphony is an excellent orchestra, but is better represented by their new conductor as opposed to Schermerhorn.