JON ØIVIND NESS (b.1968): Fierce Kentucky Mothers of Doom for 2 Trombones and Orchestra, Sunburst for Piano and Orchestra, Bury my Heart at Katnosa for Guitar and Orchestra.

Catalogue Number: 12P012

Label: Aurora

Reference: ACD 5069

Format: CD

Price: $18.98

Description: These three concertos are united by the brand of black humor that we've seen before from Ness, which now seems to have coalesced into a kind of ironic take on 'brutalism'. Sunburst is agitated and grotesque throughout, with a frantic, insistent quality even in its quieter moments. The solo part, initially Messiaenic in its harmonies, soon degenerates into obsessively mechanistic gestures, disturbingly familiar yet directionless. Xylophones engage the piano in manic dialogue, while the orchestra rumbles ominously. Bury my Heart takes sardonic gibes at impressionistic nature-music; without the quarter-tones (the guitar is tuned thus for a start) the birdsongs and pastel orchestral colors might not sound so sinister, but the odd tunings and slithering chromatic gestures render this landscape nightmarish, a backdrop against which horrific acts might be committed. Fierce Kentucky Mothers is a musical duel for two ensembles, from which the trombones emerge as duelling soloists partway through. The title is derived from the composer's response to two movies and a video game, all violent; not surprisingly, the music is aggressive, with pounding rhythms and the kind of unstable, disturbing distortions of Sunburst, though timbrally very different, without the hectic, glittering effects that dominate the latter. By no means inaccessible, with at least a tonal basis and a high entertainment quotient, these are striking and refreshingly 'different' additions to the concerto repertory. Sverre Riise, Marius Hesby (trombones), Magnus Loddgard (piano), Thomas Kjekstad (guitar), Norwegian Radio Orchestra; Thomas Rimul.


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