David Leisner is on extraordinarily versatile musician with a multifaceted career as electrifying performing artist, a distinguished composer, and a master teacher. Regarded as one of America’s leading classical guitarists, his superb musicianship and provocative programming have been applauded by critics and audiences around the world.
Here are three 20th-century violin concertos written within a 30-year period in three totally different styles, played by a soloist equally at home in all of them. Bernstein's Serenade, the earliest and most accessible work, takes its inspiration from Plato's Symposium; its five movements, musical portraits of the banquet's guests, represent different aspects of love as well as running the gamut of Bernstein's contrasting compositional styles. Rorem's concerto sounds wonderful. Its six movements have titles corresponding to their forms or moods; their character ranges from fast, brilliant, explosive to slow, passionate, melodious. Philip Glass's concerto, despite its conventional three movements and tonal, consonant harmonies, is the most elusive. Written in the "minimalist" style, which for most ordinary listeners is an acquired taste, it is based on repetition of small running figures both for orchestra and soloist, occasionally interrupted by long, high, singing lines in the violin against or above the orchestra's pulsation.
A downtown mainstay for twenty years, composer/multi-woodwind performer Ned Rothenberg makes his Tzadik debut with a stunning CD of chamber music. Acclaimed for work in a wide variety of contexts from the multi-metric funk of his Double Band to the large chamber jazz of Power Lines, Rothenberg here shows both range and focus in works for unprecedented instrumentations that have epic scope. Asian and western instruments combine in scores mixing improvised solo features with through-composed ensembles. Ghost Stories is one of Rothenberg's most accomplished works.
Unable to support his family in the Australian outback, a man turns to stealing horses in order to make money. He gets more deeply drawn into the outlaw life, and eventually becomes involved in murders. Based on the life of famed 19th-century Australian outlaw Ned Kelly.