The rising level of interest in the music of American composer David Gompper was demonstrated by this recording of a group of his works by the venerable Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in 2009. The violin soloist, Austria's Wolfgang David, was also of international renown. Gompper is one of a group of American composers to have successfully negotiated the divide between the academic and public spheres of concert music in a way that few Europeans have done. His language has atonal aspects, but also draws on late Romanticism. Each of the four works exploits an abstract structural cell in some way, but the underlying mood is lyrical and accessible. Clear extramusical associations appear in the shorter pieces, and Flip (track 5) even incorporates quotations from or allusions to the soundtrack of the television show Flipper and also that of the film Brazil. Ikon (2008) involves the dimensions of a Russian Orthodox icon acquired by the composer in Estonia. The work is closely based on the icon's proportions, but also vividly places the violin in the role of the viewer of the icon, beholding and perhaps supplicating it. Spirals (2007), the only non-soloistic orchestral work, is more purely abstract, drawing on the Fibonacci series for various musical parameters; more attractive is the Violin Concerto, developed from a series of echo effects that coalesce over the course of three movements into musical layers that feel like layers of memory. The performers obviously rehearsed what is often fairly complex music with interest and commitment. Recommended for those with an interest in contemporary American orchestral music.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim