STEVEN MACKEY (b.1956): Stumble to Grace for Piano and Orchestra*, Sneaky March for Piano*, JOHN ADAMS (b.1947): Hallelujah Junction for 2 Piano, China Gates for Piano.
Catalogue Number: 03P095
Label: Canary Classics
Description: Mackey's piano concerto is the main work here, its title alluding to the stumbling, exploratory steps of a young child developing an independent personality. The work is grounded in tonality, with an eclectic approach to the incorporation of other idioms. It is divided into five 'stages'; in the first, the piano's hesitant first steps encounter competition from destabilizing quarter-tones, undermining its attempts at assertiveness. The work's essential "American-ness" comes to the fore in the second, with echoes of Bernstein and Gershwin against a conflicting heavy bass beat. Stage three is mostly a piano solo, consisting of long arcs of singing tone, increasingly jazzy as it progresses, but soon the unstable world of quarter-tones appears again, from which the piano emerges with a kind of inner, quiet confidence. In the finale the piano is ebullient and assertive in confident dialogue with the orchestra, which celebrates with sumptuous powerful chords which introduce a lively fugue, the soloist now firmly in command of the work's riotous conclusion. Adams' Hallelujah Junction couples repeated rhythmic gestures with the composer's customary satisfyingly sumptuous harmonic vocabulary. Orli Shaham (piano), Jon Kimura Parker (second piano), Los Angeles Philharmonic; David Robertson. * - World Premiere Recordings.