Orchestral Works by Tomas Svoboda

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In pursuit of accessibility, Czech-American composer Tomás Svoboda has reclaimed tonality and traditional forms as his birthright. However, much of his music seems stylistically appropriated from other composers, yet without a trace of post-modern irony. The stridently festive Overture of the Season abounds with syncopations and staggered fanfares, and sounds like it might be a recently discovered work by Janácek. Yet it cannot be, since there is scarcely an interesting measure to be found in this painfully imitative work. The Concerto for marimba and orchestra is less bland than the previous work, but its harmonic language is neither challenging nor coherent. Niel DePonte plays his instrument admirably, but the solo part is weakly planned and at times sounds silly, especially when confronted by the full orchestra in the finale. The youthful Symphony No. 1 (of Nature) is strangely Nordic in flavor, and Svoboda's recipe calls for equal parts of Sibelius and Alfven, with just a dash of Nielsen to spice things up. In other words, this piece is hopelessly derivative and should be filed under juvenilia. The Oregon Symphony, led by James DePreist, produces a dynamic sound and works earnestly over this music. But in the end, Svoboda's unselfconscious pastiches do not warrant such efforts.

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