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.
Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony offer the world-premiere recording of John Adams’ Absolute Jest, commissioned by the orchestra, alongside the composer’s Grand Pianola Music, another SFS commission from 30 years earlier, conducted here by the composer. Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony join forces with America’s most-performed living composer, John Adams, in a colossal album featuring Adams’s Absolute Jest and Grand Pianola Music. Hear Adams’s inspired and witty take on Beethoven’s spirited scherzos in this first-ever recording of his SFS- commissioned Absolute Jest. Also featured is Grand Pianola Music, with its tongue-in-cheek allusions to Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto, written for and premiered by the SFS. Both works speak to the deeply personal and vital relationship of some of the top musicians of our time: John Adams, MTT, and the SFS.