* Oceana (1996, rev. 2004)
* Tenebrae (2002, rev. 2003)
* Three Songs (2001-2002)
Luciana Souza, vocals
Scott Tennant & John Dearman, guitars
Dawn Upshaw, soprano)
Gwinnett Young Singers
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra & Chorus/Robert Spano
DG B0009060-02 Total time: 68:57
Summary for the Busy Executive: Disappointing.
I wish I could report otherwise. One of the few solvent major labels
decides to gather its hot young prospects in a recording of three ambitious
works by a rising contemporary composer, and it just sort of fizzles
I've known Osvaldo Golijov's music since the EMI release of Yiddishbbuk
and Last Round, which just knocked me out. I went right to La passion
segun San Marcos and thought that, at last, a major young composer had
arrived. Since then, I've liked his work only in bits. The late work
seems too easy, a manner assumed, as if wearing a great suit automatically
made one competent. Make no mistake, these scores proceed on manner.
Oceana sets a text by Pablo Neruda. The most interesting thing about
it is its use of a guitar-combo instrumentation. It doesn't illuminate
the poet, and it certainly hasn't the astonishing beauty of the poetry.
Indeed, in the choral passages, you have a devil of a time hearing any
of the words at all or making them out with the text in front of you.
This makes me wonder why he bothered to set Neruda in the first place.
After all, much of the "vocals" for the soloist are basically vocalises.
Why not simply carry it through?
Tenebrae, inspired by Couperin, begins as a noble sarabande for string
quartet and repeats itself to the point where you lapse (or I do, at
any rate) into coma.
The 3 Songs suffer from the same main fault as Oceana -- tepid, clueless
settings of great poems.
Everything receives star treatment, with Souza, Tennant and Dearman
(of the L.A. Guitar Quartet), Kronos, Upshaw, and Spano committing
themselves to their considerable bests. Reviews have praised these works
as if they were the next Concerto for Orchestra, so perhaps I've missed
something you won't. The engineering is gorgeous. I wish to heaven I
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