JOHN HARBISON (b.1938): Double Concerto for Violin, Cello and Orchestra, WOLFGANG RIHM (b.1952): Duo concerto for Violin, Cello and Orchestra, JOHANNES BRAHMS (1834-1896): Concerto for Violin, Cello and Orchestra, Op. 102.
Catalogue Number: 07U011
Label: Sony Classical
Description: Harbison's concerto is a dynamic, colorful work in three movements, in the composer's customary extended-tonality, approachable idiom. The work is Romantic in concept - in more than one sense; written for a husband and wife due it has an overarching theme of greater closeness and co-operation over time, and the composer intended to explore the relationships between the solo parts in a way that is not possible in a traditional single-soloist concerto. There are cross-references throughout the work, and this and its narrative arc give it a strong sense of unity and cohesion, as is typical of Harbison. In the first movement the music is questing and unsettled, the soloists frequently exhibiting tension between their relative treatments of the material. They present a more harmonious, united front in the slow movement, even in the face of several strident challenges from the orchestra, and in the dancing finale, with its suggestions of folk-like, Appalachian fiddling, finds the soloists achieving a celebratory accord. Rihm's Duo Concerto was also written for the present soloists, but his solo writing treats them as more of a composite soloist, engaged in a sinewy polyphony throughout. This richly textured 'ribbon' of intense dialogue makes a compelling textural 'theme' in its own right. The work is in a single span of over 20 minutes, with three discernible parts and like Rihm's other recent works it has a firm basis in tonality and a powerful sense of late-Romantic drama. Mira Wang (violin), Jan Vogler (cello), Royal Scottish National Orchestra; Peter Oundjian.