Thursday, December 19, 2013

McTee: Symphony No. 1 Ballet for Orchestra

Cindy McTee: Symphony No. 1
Detroit Symphony Orchestra
Leonard Slatkin, conductor

If you're not familiar with this talented American composer (who I wrote about earlier. See CCC 059 Cindy McTee), this album provides a great introduction.

The release opens with "Circuit," a five-minute work that generates high-energy action from start to finish. By contrast, "Einstein's Dream" is a slow-moving atmospheric work for orchestra and electronics. Conservatively atonal, its evolving soundscapes are quite appealing, and draw the listener into its world.

"Double Play" was written for the Leonard Slatkin and the Detroit symphony Orchestra, and they perform it with confidence. The second movement is especially effective, bristling with jazzy, good-natured spirits.

McTee's Symphony No. 1: Ballet for Orchestra is just that -- a work of symphonic proportions that practically begs to be choreographed. Each movement has a dramatic narrative to it and a pulse that keeps the music moving constantly forward. McTee's carefully crafted melodies make her music easily accessible without resorting to triteness or cliche. This is a substantial work that merits revisiting.

Leonard Slatkin and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra know this music well, and it shows. Ensemble playing is clean and precise, the narrative flow of the music is clear, and the blend between instruments and sections seamless.

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