ROBIN DE RAAFF (b.1968): Symphony No. 3 “Illumination...Eclipse” (Arnhem Philharmonic Orchestra; Antonio Manacorda), Cello Concerto (Marien van Staalen [cello], Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra; Yannick Nézet-Séguin), Entangled Tales (Hague Philharmonic; Neeme Järvi).
Catalogue Number: 05S008
Label: Challenge Classics
Reference: CC 72747
Description: The symphony addresses themes of light and darkness, a very Romantic concept, although here the idea seems to be the contrast between the two, rather than a progression from the one to the other. The work is thus one of extremes - of dynamic, of texture, and of dissonance versus consonance. From one moment to the next, glowing strands or encroaching shadows of sonorous texture may be replaced by towering blocks of romantic harmony or eruptions of shattering tumult. The result is ultimately a very personal kind of expressionism that is never less than impressive and sometimes beautiful, sometimes overwhelmingly violent. The enormous orchestra is handled with extreme virtuosity. The concerto occupies similar territory, with extended passages of dense orchestral texture against which the soloist is pitted in what sometimes sounds like a struggle to the death; but again, without warning the skies clear and the cello launches into a passage of sumptuous melody. Huge orchestral effects are here in abundance, as in the symphony, as are continual excursions into tonal harmony to suggest a late-romantic purpose behind the modernism of the composer's eclectic idiom. The pulse of the music quickens throughout, as the listener - and the soloist - are swept along toward a final radiant coda in the form of a lyrical accompanied cadenza. Entangled Tales was written in 2007 for the Boston Symphony; in 2011 it became the second movement of de Raaff's 1st symphony. The work is a tumultuous, opulently orchestrated mosaic of small fragments in constant motion, giving the impression of an abrupt, compressed summary of a full-scale Romantic tone poem or symphonic movement.