DAVID CHESKY (b.1956): Venetian Concertos Nos. 1-4.
Catalogue Number: 06R072
Label: Chesky Records
Description: These are a lot of fun, with a slightly warped sense of humor. Chesky pays tribute to the baroque concerto grosso in four pieces that follow the structure of their models but in an updated vocabulary. This sort of thing has been done before - Schnittke comes to mind, and the two very fine examples by Bloch, for instance, but Chesky brings an individual approach to the homage/parody genre. Taking the lively appeal of concertos by Vivaldi as a point de départ, the works soon take a wrong turn as unexpected modulations or off-beat syncopations of melody or bass line emerge to constantly play with the listener's expectations. The degree to which they sound like modern compositions, as opposed to cheeky baroque pastiches with bitonal 'wrong notes' varies considerably. The slow movement of No.1 could plausibly be by Shostakovich, and in general this concerto is darker, more chromatic and subverted by sinister undertones than the breezy neo-baroque No.3 with the flute supplying the incongruous bitonal accents. No.4 stretches the chromatic envelope further afield in terms of dissonance than the previous pieces - the slow movement is again more than a little reminiscent of Shostakovich - suggesting that any future entries in the series may be less beholden to their baroque forebears. Orchestra of the 21st Century.