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.
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.
New York-based reed master Ned Rothenberg managed to perform twice during his last family trip to Israel two years ago, and in both instances he collaborated for the first time with Israeli musicians. Two duets from Rothenberg concert in Jerusalem with free-improv bassist JC Jones were documented on Jones' second release (Duos II, Kadima Collective, 2005), and now this collaboration with iconoclastic composer Slava Ganelin, Falling into Place, recorded live in concert in Jaffa, has been finally released.
The term "New York downtown jazz" is sometimes frowned upon by its practitioners, who tend to feel stylistically pigeonholed by the description and also linked to a certain club south of Canal Street, about which many feel ambivalent at best. There might be a number of reasons for these members of the New York creative music community to roll their eyes at yet another reference to "downtowners" (not the least of which being that many of them live in Brooklyn), but they must at least acknowledge that the downtown scene is usually described in positive terms – edgy, progressive, boundary-stretching, adventurous, non-idiomatic – in contrast to the Midtown scene surrounding Wynton Marsalis and Lincoln Center, which, while credited with keeping the flame of classic modern jazz alive in America, has also been accused of a certain stodgy, retro, parochial, and limited sensibility in today's current, all-encompassing world of jazz and creative improvisation.
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.