DESKTOP
TABLET (max. 1024px)
MOBILE (max. 640px)
Return to Top
Ludwig Van
Toronto Montreal

LEBRECHT LISTENS | Christopher Rouse: ‘Love Letters To The Orchestra’

By Norman Lebrecht on July 24, 2020

Lebrecht_Listens_-_Rouse

Christopher Rouse: 5th Symphony (Naxos)

★★★★☆

🎧  Amazon | Spotify | Apple Music

When Christopher Rouse died ten months ago, aged 70, it seemed to spell the end of a line of American composers who placed the symphony at the heart of their art. And not just Americans. Apart from Kalevi Aho and Leif Segerstam in Finland, David Matthews and Philip Sawyers in the UK and one or two Russians and Germans,  composers seem to have given up on the symphony in the 21st century. The assumption is that audiences have lost interest. Is that really the case? In these COVID times, we have no way of judging except on record.

Rouse, an expressive talent from Baltimore, wrote symphonies all his life, always working on a new one, six in all. He also composed 11 concertos and a requiem. Rouse was fixated with orchestral sound and how it might be made relevant to modern audiences. His fifth symphony references Beethoven’s in micro-quotations of musical phrases — not so much in tribute to the master as in a kind of running commentary on his Fate theme and where it might develop into an orchestral conversation on a much larger scale.

Rouse was big and brash and loud, but also delicate and refined. He kept the harp fully occupied and allowed the strings to control the atmosphere even in the noisiest passages. His handling of orchestral colour is virtuosic and his knowledge of public taste and tolerance restricts the symphony to a tight 30 minutes. Giancarlo Guerrero conducts the excellent Nashville Symphony with suppleness and subtlety. The half-hour passes very fast.

Two other pieces on the album — Supplica (2013) and Concerto for Orchestra (2008) — contrast soft sentiment with searing instrumental power. I am beginning to think that what Chris Rouse wrote was not big symphonies, but an intimate series of love letters to the orchestra, an endangered species in our short-span century.

To read more from Norman Lebrecht, follow him on Slippedisc.com.

Norman Lebrecht’s new book Genius and Anxiety is available now.

#LUDWIGVAN

Want more updates on classical music and opera news and reviews? Follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter for all the latest.

Norman Lebrecht

Norman Lebrecht is one of the most widely-read commentators on music, culture and cultural politics. He is a regular presenter on BBC Radio 3 and a contributor to the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Standpoint, Sinfini and other publications. His blog, Slipped Disc, is among the most widely read cultural sites online, breaking exclusive stories and campaigning against human abuse and acts of injustice in the cultural industries.

Norman Lebrecht

Norman Lebrecht is one of the most widely-read commentators on music, culture and cultural politics. He is a regular presenter on BBC Radio 3 and a contributor to the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Standpoint, Sinfini and other publications. His blog, Slipped Disc, is among the most widely read cultural sites online, breaking exclusive stories and campaigning against human abuse and acts of injustice in the cultural industries.
Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_high_590x300
comments powered by Disqus

Ludwig Van Toronto

THE SCOOP | Toronto Symphony Launches Video-On-Demand Service

By Michael Vincent on October 5, 2020

The TSO has announced the new On-Demand concert video series featuring eight concerts programmed by Music Director Gustavo Gimeno.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_high_590x300

LEBRECHT LISTENS | Berliner Philharmoniker Samples Kirill Petrenko’s Passions With New Box Set

By Norman Lebrecht on October 2, 2020

The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra has issued an oblong boxed set of its inaugural concerts with music director Kirill Petrenko.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article

THE REMOTE PODCAST | Arlen Hlusko On Recording 'in[verse]' For The Fall For Dance North Festival

By Michael Zarathus-Cook on October 13, 2020

Episode 4 of the REMOTE podcast: A great conversation with cellist Arlen Hlusko about her latest recording, commissioned by the Fall for Dance North Festival.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_low_590x300
lv_toronto_ssb_atf_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_high_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_mid_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_low_300x300
lv_toronto_tsb_high_300x700
lv_toronto_tsb_low_300x700
lv_toronto_ssb_atf_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_high_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_mid_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_low_300x300
lv_toronto_tsb_high_300x700
lv_toronto_tsb_low_300x700

We have detected that you are using an adblocking plugin in your browser.

The revenue we earn by the advertisements is used to manage this website. Please whitelist our website in your adblocking plugin.