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Rorem: Piano Concerto No. 2; Cello Concerto
Ned Rorem, José Serebrier, Royal Scottish National Orchestra
Rorem: Piano Concerto No. 2; Cello Concerto
Genre: Classical
  •  Track Listings (11) - Disc #1

Chosen in 1988 as Composer of the Year by Musical America and now recognized as one of the finest song composers in America, Ned Rorem has also written a significant body of music for orchestra, including three Symphonies ...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Ned Rorem, José Serebrier, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Simon Mulligan
Title: Rorem: Piano Concerto No. 2; Cello Concerto
Members Wishing: 0
Total Copies: 0
Label: Naxos American
Original Release Date: 1/1/2007
Re-Release Date: 9/25/2007
Genre: Classical
Styles: Chamber Music, Forms & Genres, Concertos, Historical Periods, Classical (c.1770-1830), Modern, 20th, & 21st Century, Instruments, Keyboard, Strings
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 636943931523


Album Description
Chosen in 1988 as Composer of the Year by Musical America and now recognized as one of the finest song composers in America, Ned Rorem has also written a significant body of music for orchestra, including three Symphonies (Naxos 8.559149), a Violin Concerto and a Flute Concerto (Naxos 8.559278). When Leonard Bernstein gave the première of Rorem's Third Symphony with the New York Philharmonic in 1959, it signaled a significant triumph for his orchestral music, written in a tonal idiom alien to the experimental practices of the day. Composed in Morocco in 1951, the Second Piano Concerto has a distinctly American character. The last movement, `Real Fast!', is a tour de force for soloist and orchestra, with jazz-like rhythms and an exhilarating conclusion. In his recent concertos such as the Cello Concerto of 2002, Rorem has abandoned the usual three-movement pattern. The composer has written: "Although I don't believe that non-vocal music can be proven to `mean' anything ... it's still fun to give programmatic subtitles to various sections."

CD Reviews

Outstanding Concerti
D. A Wend | Buffalo Grove, IL USA | 11/26/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Another disc of Ned Rorem's music conduced by Jose Serebrier.

The Piano Concerto No. 2 was written by Ned Rorem in 1951 and is a witty and urbane piece that reminds one of Ravel. Except for the final movement, there is little stress on bravura piano playing in favor of a lyrical approach. The first movement begins with a sparkling allegro and moved into a dreamy section with one lovely melody melting into another, returning to the original brisk and happy-go-lucky opening. The middle movement is quiet and touched with melancholy with a very lovely piano part; the final movement explodes with jazz-like rhythms and brings the concerto to an exhilarating conclusion.

The Cello Concerto dates from 2002 and is in 8 movements each bearing a whimsical title. For examole, the first movement is marked "Curtain Raise" and is descriptive of the music. This is followed by "There and Back, which is a 137 measure section where the music comes back to the beginning; "Three Queries, One Response" where the cello answers a rambling melody posed by the orchestra; "Competitive Chaos" is exactly as it is titled and is followed by "A Single Tone, A Dozen Implications" where the cello plays a single note. "One Coin, Two Sides" presents two version of the same melody and "Valse Rappelee" is an orchestration of the composer's Dances for Cello. The final movement "Adrift" is quiet and reflective, gradually fading away.

The recording is nicely balanced and beautifully played by the soloists, Simon Mulligan and Wen-Sinn Yang, and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.
Two Appealing Concertos by an American Master
J Scott Morrison | Middlebury VT, USA | 10/31/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Rorem's Second Piano Concerto and his Cello Concerto were written fifty-one years apart and are very different in their sound-worlds, but they are recognizably by the same composer. This CD represents yet another in the continuing series of Naxos recordings of Rorem's orchestral works, a genre that has till now been underrepresented. And it lets us know, yet again, what we've been missing. It is a mistake to think of Rorem simply as America's best art-song composer; he is that, but he is much more. Naxos's earlier recordings of his symphonies, tone poems and chamber music have shown us that he is a master across all fields.

Rorem has written four piano concertos, including one for left hand. The Second was written in 1951 and premiered in Paris in 1954 by Julius Katchen. It is jazzy and bluesy in many passages of its three movements, clearly coming from the same American musical zeitgeist as Bernstein's Age of Anxiety, but with a definite Parisian flavor. It is perhaps also a descendant of Ravel's G Major Concerto. It has a virtuosic piano part and brilliant orchestration. It is a mystery -- an all-too-common phenomenon with American art music -- why, after its acclaimed premiere, it lay unperformed again until recently. British pianist Simon Mulligan plays it sensitively. He is particularly effective in the slower, lyrical passages, but that is not to say that he doesn't play the finale, which is marked 'Real Fast!' -- I love the Americanness of that tempo indication -- with panache. With any luck at all this concerto could find a regular place on contemporary orchestral programs.

Written in 2001, the Cello Concerto, like a number of Rorem's later concerti, is in more than the usual three movements -- eight in fact! Each movement has a specific title: Curtain Raise; There and Back; Three Queries, One Response; Competitive Chaos; A Single Tone, A Dozen Implications; One Coin, Two Sides; Valse Rappelée; and Adrift. Each movement pretty definitely illustrates its title. 'There and Back', like Hindemith's 'Hin und Zurück', goes forward to its midpoint and then plays backwards to return to its starting point. 'Competitive Chaos' sounds to be almost aleatoric in the cellists's and orchestral contributions, but we are told it is strictly notated. 'One Coin, Two Sides' concludes with a gorgeous repeat of its first part scored by four celli. 'Adrift' does indeed drift into a gradually fading cello line amidst harp and strings. The work is tonal but with much dissonance and extraordinarily evocative and atmospheric orchestration. Swiss cellist Wen-Sinn Yang is an effective soloist with plangent tone and musicianly instincts. José Serebrier, who is amassing quite a discography in recent years, leads the Royal Scottish National Orchestra in two gorgeous performances. They are given excellent recorded sound.

This disc is a winner. I'd recommend to it all who would like to explore Rorem's non-song oeuvre.

Scott Morrison"
More pleasant surprises
David Thierry | Chicago, IL United States | 04/22/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is just the kind of music people complain about composers not writing anymore. The first movement of the piano concerto is particularly lovely but there's more in store than just pretty. Once again Rorem's melancholy lyricism brings it's own substance to each piece but he's just as likely to flip that lovely tune and turn it into something jazzy and joyful. If you've already discovered Rorem, these are works of the same consistent quality. Very highly recommended."