, May 2012
His [Stephen Albert] style was one of the first that became coined—by some—as the “New Romanticism”. Albert and the many subsequent others who seem to fit this category were writing music that sought to “revive” the art of melody and lush, concordant harmonies.
His In Concordium for violin and orchestra, heard here in a wonderful performance by violinist Ilkka Talvi and the Seattle Symphony, is a perfectly satisfying example. This is a very engaging work with a simply wonderful solo part.
Albert had a fascination with the works of Irish poet and novelist James Joyce, having written several pieces on themes inspired by Joyce. I was best familiar with Albert’s music, in fact, through his Symphony River Run (inspired by Joyce’s “Finnegan’s Wake”). Albert’s song cycle TreeStone, heard here, is scored for soprano, tenor and small orchestra. These songs, taken from Joyce’s final novel, are a reflection—as was the Joyce source material—on the Tristan and Isolde legend (in its Celtic original; “Tristan and Iseult”). The writing is excellent and this work, as a whole, is a very unusual but fascinating song cycle.
This is a really fine work that carries raw emotion as well as some very heady food for thought. Soprano Lucy Shelton has an international reputation as an interpreter of contemporary vocal music and tenor David Gordon is best known for Baroque music and conveys the tone of this score wonderfully. The New York Chamber Symphony performs with conviction and Gerard Schwarz is a gifted interpreter of modern music, clearly familiar with that of Stephen Albert. This is a really nice disc and I do strongly recommend it to anyone. In particular, this would make a very satisfying introduction to Stephen Albert’s music—which deserves more attention. © 2012 Audiophile Audition Read complete review