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April 2006

Chris Brubeck
Convergence
Koch International Classics

Three instantly appealing pieces for orchestra by Chris Brubeck receive their premiere recordings on Convergence, and they all dance and sing and drive forward, sparkling with bright yet subtle tone colors. Brubeck, son of Dave and a jazz trombonist himself, obviously knows how to swing; conductors Paul Freeman and Sara Jobin help to get the Czech National Symphony Orchestra and the Tassajara Symphony to do the same, resulting in performances that effortlessly blend classical and jazz in the service of high-quality entertainment.

"Convergence," a Boston Pops commission, begins with imposing music that yields to an easy blues nocturne and a rollicking finale titled "Le Grande Parade du Funk." "River of Song" features texts from five young poets and e.e. cummings, set to sensitive, tone-painting music with many rewarding felicities and sung by bright, agile soprano Rachel Luxon and the inimitable mezzo Frederica von Stade. The most substantial work comes last on the disc: the "Prague Concerto for Bass Trombone and Orchestra," which has some meltingly beautiful writing for the orchestral winds and trombone in its slow movement. The concerto's finale, a "Dance of the Neocons," busts out a jagged, infectious melody and twisty cadenza; its rhythmic energy ultimately dispels ominous minor-mode overtones.

Originally published in April 2006
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