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CD review: New Music for Eb Tenor Horn and String Orchestra

Sheona White
Conductor: Kyle Ritenauer
Featuring: Ron Levy (piano)
Phoenix USA Recordings: PHCD 190


Jeffrey Kaufman is a Grammy nominated composer, arranger and producer, whose wide ranging output has been performed in the USA for close on half a century - from Broadway to National Public Radio.

In the process of writing a concerto as well as a sonata for an unspecified bass clef instrument he was invited to a concert by Imperial Brass of New Jersey that featured Sheona White. 

“Totally ignorant”, as he admits in his sleeve notes, he became an immediate fan and convert – the works rapidly adapted, and a recording date agreed.  

Finely crafted

What was a fortuitous happenstance has led to important, finely crafted additions to the repertoire. 

His ‘Essay’  concerto (accompanied by 21-piece string ensemble) and ‘Sonata’  (with equally fine piano counterpoint) provide the backbone of a thoughtfully produced release, played with refined artistry by the soloist.

‘Essay’ has no literary connotations – instead, providing the soloist with three pages of stylistic freedom on which she imprints the complete exposition of her skill set;

Also featured is an arrangement by Dorothy Gates of her own ‘Imaginings’  and Joseph Turrin’s ‘Romance’  (also featured in its original form on her ‘The Beauty Within’  release with Foden’s Band). 

Delicate

Kaufman’s delicate arrangement of ‘Londonderry Air’  and a stand-alone string ensemble feature of Turrin’s ‘Vespera’  – the second movement of his symphony ‘Celestium’  for chamber orchestra, complete the repertoire.

‘Essay’  has no literary connotations – instead, providing the soloist with three pages of stylistic freedom on which she imprints the complete exposition of her skill set; the opening full of pointed restless aggression, incessant and taut. 

The central ‘Berceuse’  is a simple melodic line played with sophisticated undulating elegance, the third movement, with a hint of Lalo Schifrin, pulsating with dark energy all the way to its brisk conclusion. 

Haunting

There are cleverly conceived detours in the opening movement of his ‘Sonata’  – a darkly hued seriousness leading into a haunting vaudevillian tune, as if the soloist has walked backstage of an old disused Broadway theatre. 

The flowing central movement also retains the elegiac feeling of lost memories and sadness (with a hint of Chopin’s funeral march), before the sashaying lilt of the final movement is delivered with flirting capriciousness.

Originally a retirement present for French Horn player Michelle Baker of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, it is a gift rewrapped here by the soloist in an elegant display of musical optimism.

Dorothy Gates skill in mixing unanticipated musical ingredients to create persuasive works of subtle wit and melodic interest is shown wonderfully in  ‘Imaginings’.  Originally a retirement present for French Horn player Michelle Baker of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, it is a gift rewrapped here by the soloist in an elegant display of musical optimism.

Reserve

It is followed by Jospeh Turrin’s ‘Romance’,  which has an Elgarian drawing room reserve of tastefully mannered longing – the final chord ebbing away in the air, whilst ‘Vespera’  is an ethereal string ensemble interlude of distant mystery and enigmatic, icily flowing beauty. 

It sits in contrast to the warmth of the lyricism displayed by the soloist on ‘Londonderry Air’  in an arrangement that has just the right shot-glass measure of sentimentality.

Iwan Fox


To purchase:

CD: https://www.sheonawhite.co.uk/product-page/new-york-cd

CD: https://phoenixcd.com/cd/new-music-for-eb-tenor-horn-and-string-orchestra/

Play list:
1. Essay (Jeffrey Kaufman)
i. Sempre Agitato e Aggressivo
ii. Berceuse 
iii. Moto Perpetuo

4. Sonata (Jeffrey Kaufman)
i. Introduction Serioso and Vaudeville Song 
ii. Lento Arioso and Elegy
iii. Cappriccio Molto Vivace

7. Imaginings (Dorothy Gates)
8. Romance (Joseph Turrin)
9. Vespera (Joseph Turrin)

10. Londonderry Air (trad. Arr. Jeffrey Kaufman)

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