CHRISTOPHER ROUSE: Odna Zhizn · Symfoni nr. 3 & 4 · Prospero's Rooms
06 December 2016
In addition to being a compulsively listenable album, this collection of symphonies and shorter works by one of America's leading composers captures a fruitful collaboration any leading orchestra could aspire to emulate. Christopher Rouse served as composer in residence during the forward-looking tenure of New York Philharmonic music director Alan Gilbert, who is in his final season. In this recording, Gilbert and the orchestra seem almost purpose-built for Rouse's muscular, evocative music. Among the works Rouse created for the ensemble is Prospero's Rooms
, an imaginative musical fantasy on Edgar Allen Poe's Masque of the Red Death
. Working his way through the variously colored rooms of Poe's tale, Rouse captures the author's eerie strangeness with powerful poetry of his own in a spooky thrill ride. Odna Zhizn
(A Life), premiered by the orchestra at Carnegie Hall in 2010, is in some ways its opposite — a radiant love letter to his wife, Natasha, who faced down real-life horrors as a child. And the two symphonies, the Third and Fourth, make a strong case for the continued vitality of the form. They are each under a half hour in length, but dense with ideas, rhythm and color.