1995, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2014

Augusta Read Thomas: Selected Works for Orchestra (2014) by Various Artists

This is a compilation of performances of some of Thomas’ writing for orchestra. I got this from the library by accident but decided to listen to it anyway.

Aureole is a vigorous orchestral piece apparently adapted from a violin piece (which I have trouble believing, given how it sounds). My assumption is that it’s not a solo piece, but maybe a trio or something. Anyway, this is full of the great stuff that comes from “modern creative” but, at this point, I’ve heard a lot like it and can’t say it blows me away.

Words of the Sea is an engaging piece whose movements run the gamut from borderline violent to whatever the menacing version of ‘serene’ is. Thomas’ music, in its quieter moments, reminds me of film music, which I think means she does a good job of conjuring images.

In My Sky at Twilight is a pretty unique piece for soprano and orchestra. If it’s a song cycle, it’s brief. But it really aggressively changes the form if that is indeed what it is: it’s too “songs” and those songs (at least the first one) vary in their musical style to degree really unknown in the form, as far as I’m aware.

Carillon Sky is basically a brief violin concerto. It’s got some pretty good stuff in it. I have listened to pretty much zero other violin concertos this century, so I’m not sure really what the state of the form is. I like this though, as brief as it is.

Terpsichore’s Dream connects with me more than Aureole does. It’s got all the stuff I love about modern creative orchestral pieces, but feels perhaps a bit more playful.  It’s still nothing new, but it’s enjoyable enough.

Silver Chants the Litanies is basically a horn concerto. I am totally unfamiliar with the state of the horn concerto in the 21st century, but this feels like a very horn-centric composition that really covers a lot of the “modern creative” ground. The weird dueling horn thing is not something I’m familiar with, and I think that’s a nice touche.

This compilation is a good introductory sampler to Thomas’ music. It would be nice to hear all the performances by the same orchestra, for consistency’s sake but I guess beggars cannot be choosers. Anyway, worth listening to if you like to hear contemporary orchestral music.


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