NICO MUHLY (b.1981): Pleasure Ground for Baritone and Orchestra, DAVID LANG (b.1957): mountain, AARON COPLAND (1900-1990): Lincoln Portrait (Maya Angelou [speaker]).
Catalogue Number: 09Q087
Label: CSO Fanfare Cincinnati
Description: Lang's piece honors Copland (whose 'Fanfare' was commissioned by this orchestra, and is alluded to in this work), and places his American-ness in the context of the majesty of the American landscape. The work is extremely impressive, monolithic, based on a slowly evolving ostinato-like gesture accompanying a theme in very long note values, in a kind of post-minimalist progression. The language uses a limited, tonal harmonic palette with the kind of unanticipated chord progression s that minimalism lends itself to. Muhly's work is also very tonal, in a lush neo-romantic idiom. The composer sets a variety of texts by America's renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead (1822-1903). The piece paints a textured portrait of a great talent shadowed by melancholy, hugely enthusiastic about his vocation, wracked by self doubt and concern for the future of his work, and ultimately suffering mental breakdown. The music begins in bright, optimistic colors, assailed by shadows in subsequent sections before finally achieving a gentle, tranquil resolution. Texts included. Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra; Louis Langrée.