Admired by Schoenberg (who described him as ‘one of the most underestimated of modern composers’), Joseph Achron was a boundary defying violinist-composer of extraordinary gifts. He drew on his Jewish faith to profound effect, from the early influence of his cantor father to his enthusiastic championing of the Society for Jewish Folk Music (which did for Jewish music what Bartók did for Eastern European folk culture). It’s hardly surprising that much of Achron’s music is for violin—he was a consummate player himself and a prolific recitalist.
As a life-long fan of Williams' film music, I have only recently discovered his more "serious" pieces. Like many versatile composers before him (think Korngold, Waxman, etc.), Williams is able to function in both worlds, writing rousing, effective scores and introspective, yet extremely dynamic works for concerto and orchestra.
The modern popularity of Baroque music is a striking contrast to its original reception. Vivaldi's 'The Four Seasons,' written in 1725, was hardly noticed by music critics until it was revived in the early 1920s. Today it is one of the most recognized compositions of all time. Each mellifluent movement has worked its way into our common cultural language.
This disc, which features a CD-ROM encoding of a video for the "Winter" movement (both Macintosh- and PC-compatible), is a 1993 recording of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. This talented young group is bringing new popularity to its music through nontraditional means. The "Winter" video, which received its broadcast premier on The Weather Channel, gained the attention of a new audience.