Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

"Music, both vocall and instrumental, so good, so delectable, so rare, so admirable, so super excellent, that it did even ravish and stupifie all those strangers that never heard the like." - Thomas Coryat, after hearing 3 hours of music at the Scuola di San Rocco in Venice, 1608.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Marvellous Perle, beautifully played

George Perle: Dance Fantasy, 6 Bagatelles, Cello Concerto, Sinfonietta no. 1, A Short Symphony

The musical wars of the 20th century are beginning to seem to me nearly as insignificant as those of the 19th. Today I listen to a work by Berg or Stravinsky and worry as little about theoretical constructs as I do with Wagner or Berlioz. The music itself hasn't changed, of course, but with the newness rubbed off and the passions of the music wars on the ebb I hear good music or not, congenial to my taste or not. George Perle was interested as much in music theory and history as he was in composition, but I can happily forget that he was one of the key figures in presenting 12-tone music in America, and just listen to this marvellous music, beautifully played by the Seattle Symphony and Ludovic Morlot.

It's surprising how small the George Perle discography is; we need many more discs like this. Bridge has done some great work lately in presenting an important American composer, with their 2006 two-disc set George Perle: A Retrospective a landmark. This new disc is volume 4 in Bridge's series; it's especially nice to have so many orchestral works, since most of the recent Perle recordings are of chamber music (as good as that music is). Ludovic Morlot and the Seattle Symphony are the best possible advocates for this music, playing with passion, verve and control. Cellist Jay Campbell is superb in the Cello Concerto; it's not a really long piece, but it's by no means slight. Perle has concentrated a powerful mix of music into this piece, which deserves a place in the repertoire.

This disc will be released on February 16, 2018.

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