Excellent collection of this composer's works
David R. Gaines | Rockville, MD, USA | 06/18/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Ellen Taafe Zwilich deserves more recordings than she gets, although there are those who would argue that she has more than her share for a composer who hasn't, shall we say, passed on yet. The Louisville Orchestra is hard to beat in terms of sympathetic recordings of contemporary music, and the combination of Zwilich/Lousiville is well worth purchasing. Highly recommended."
Pretty inconsequential stuff
G.D. | Norway | 05/14/2010
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Ellen Taaffe Zwilich (b1939) has managed to carve out a certain amount of praise and respect for her works, and has for example won multiple prices. Now, I won't claim much familiarity with her output, but if the music on this disc is a representative sample, one might justifiably wonder why. I do not deny that it is often skillfully put together and well-crafted in a workmanlike manner. But the big, strong ideas are nowhere to be seen, and even the more modest good ideas are few and far between. Stylistically the music belongs to the drawing room neo-classicism/neo-romanticism mix you find in, say, Robert Ward or Lee Hoiby, with a modest touch of Americana. It is mostly tonal, in a slightly kitchy but grayly bloated manner.
The Concerto Grosso is hence an attractive enough work, but I didn't remember a thing about if after it was finished, and I do not feel like returning to it anytime soon - fake neo-baroque music in a style mixing Hindemith and Copland with the ingenuity of neither. The oboe concerto is another superfluous addition to the catalogue; there is nothing remotely notable or memorable about it. The third symphony is slightly better, but filled with formless sentimentality rather than profundity or good ideas - it is worth hearing for fans of undistinguished, well-crafted and conservative neo-romanticism, but I don't consider myself among those.
The performers can hardly be said to be the culprits either. John Mark is a fine soloists and seems to be able to get the most out of his unrewarding concerto. The Louisville Orchestra sounds a tad underrehearsed, lacking in spirit and refinement, but are generally pretty good. Still, while this is an intermittently attractive presentation of a big figure on the contemporary music scene, it offers few unqualified rewards for the average music lover. The sound is slightly murky but decent enough."