Jennifer Higdon: Duo Duel • Concerto for Orchestra

‘For a composer, nothing is more inspirational than writing for and working with fantastic performers. This recording is a testament to the joy of composing for two inspirational soloists, Svet Stoyanov and Matthew Strauss, and the thrill of hearing it all come to life in the hands of the fabulous Houston Symphony, with Robert Spano expertly guiding the proceedings! I could not be more pleased and honored to share these two works and the artistry of these extraordinary musicians through Naxos.’

Jennifer Higdon

Jennifer HIGDON (b. 1962)
Duo Duel *
Concerto For Orchestra

Matthew Strauss & Svet Stoyanov, Percussion *
Houston Symphony
Robert Spano

Pulitzer Prize- and three⁠-⁠time GRAMMY award-winning composer, Jennifer Higdon, continues to write what the Chicago Sun⁠-⁠Times describes as music “both modern and timeless”. Duo Duel for two pitched percussion instruments and orchestra is a double concerto of scintillating, high⁠-⁠speed virtuosity: “don’t blink – you might miss something!” she advises the listener. Concerto for Orchestra demands the utmost in technical accomplishment from all members of the orchestra. The first movement was written last to give a clearer picture of what was needed to start a work that is both an orchestral celebration and a true virtuoso tour⁠-⁠de⁠-⁠force.

Listen to an extract from Concerto for Orchestra
About the Artists

Matthew Strauss combines his position as associate principal timpanist/section percussionist of the Houston Symphony with that of associate professor at Rice University and faculty member at the Texas Music Festival (University of Houston). He has performed with numerous leading American orchestras, including as soloist, and is also an active chamber musician. He is a performing artist and clinician for Promark, Evans Drumheads, Zildjian and Pearl Drums.

Svet Stoyanov is a driving force in modern percussion, both as concert performer, music producer and educator. He has commissioned a significant body of new works, including Jennifer Higdon’s Duo Duel, and Sideman, a percussion concerto by Mason Bates. As a producer, he has mixed and co-presented numerous works for the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music. He is also a founding member of The Percussion Collective – a groundbreaking collaborative ensemble featuring some of today’s finest percussionists.

Robert Spano, conductor, pianist, composer and teacher, is known for the intensity of his artistry and distinctive communicative abilities. He is music director laureate of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, having previously served as music director for twenty seasons, during which time he has garnered four GRAMMY Awards and eight nominations with the orchestra. An avid mentor to rising artists, he is responsible for nurturing the careers of numerous celebrated composers, conductors, and performers.

The Houston Symphony Orchestra continues its second century as one of America’s leading orchestras with a full complement of concert, community, education, touring and recording activities. One of the oldest performing arts organisations in Texas, and one of the largest in Houston, the orchestra presents more than 130 concerts annually, in addition to more than 1,000 outreach performances each year, reaching more than 200,000 people in Greater Houston.
Other recordings of music by Jennifer Higdon
All Things Majestic
Viola Concerto • Oboe Concerto

Díaz • Button • Nashville Symphony • Guerrero
‘This is just a marvelous disc… Jennifer Higdon has emerged as one of the leading creative musical voices of our time, producing a seemingly endless stream of expertly crafted, emotionally satisfying, and accessible works in virtually all genres.’
Piano Trio • Voices • Impressions
Meyers • Weilerstein • Neiman • Kitchen • Kleinbart • Huang • Smith • Cypress String Quartet
‘Sound quality of these recordings is fine throughout... The performances are full of zest and commitment... ’
‘This generous collection offers early chamber works of Jennifer Higdon, for whose work I have been consistently enthusiastic. The programme confirms that this composer’s excellence can be heard at all points in her career... Performances are exceptional.’
American Record Guide
Point Blank
Dooley • Danyew • Magnuson • McAllister • Higdon

Stiers • Illinois State University Wind Symphony • Belongia
‘Higdon’s single-movement concerto brims with good, ear⁠-⁠pricking ideas, and Ben Stiers is wonderfully adept throughout. Terrific pieces, supremely well played; the recording is first class, too.’
MusicWeb International
For the full list of Jennifer Higdon titles on Naxos, please follow this link.

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