VITO PALUMBO (b.1972): Concerto Barocco for Harpsichord and Strings, Cello Concerto, Recorder Concerto.
Catalogue Number: 04T076
Format: SACD hybrid
Description: Three original and striking concerti, very different from one another yet all pointing to the versatility and accessibility of the composer. All three works are tonal, drawing on different elements of tradition. The harpsichord concerto "was conceived as a reappropriation of the baroque style." as the composer puts it. The three-movement work borrows harmony and textures instantly recognizable as those of the Baroque - Bach, Vivaldi or Scarlatti - but combines and juxtaposes them in subtly inauthentic ways; cadences and modulations don't follow the rules; the parts are characteristically Baroque, but the whole is just slightly 'off' with a sense of postmodern irony. A most engaging divertimento. The big-boned post-romantic cello concerto is a more serious work, though it too co-opts and subverts tradition, here that of the 20th-century descendants of the Romantic cello concerto. The work is tonal and modal, and is structured in the conventional three movements. The composer speaks of it as a tribute to Shostakovich, but aside from a degree of ironic grotesquerie in the outer movements, the music doesn't sound much like the Russian master. The central Adagio is a melodic oasis between the tense, tragic first movement and the ominous, brooding passacaglia-finale. The Recorder Concerto is more recent, and is markedly different again, more obviously modern, though still very tonal. In one continuous span of half an hour which clearly subdivides into three sections, the piece is expressive and dramatic, employing more unorthodox orchestral timbres and the strong tone of the 'Eagle' recorder - a new instrument with the sound of a recorder but at least the projecting power of a flute - to illustrate a rather apocalyptic narrative, not the kind of thing one usually associates with the recorder! - with a bitter, tumultuous first movement, a desolate, lyrical central section and the finale an unstable, unsettling and hyperactive progression leading inexorably to a shattering conclusion. Anna Paradiso (harpsichord), Mats Olofsson (cello), Dan Laurin (recorder), Gävle Symphony Orchestra; Jaime Martín.