British composer Bernard Rands taught at Harvard for many years and is better known in the U.S. than in Britain. He started with a musical language close to serialism but broadened it later in his career, a bit like Penderecki. The result in Rands' case fit the aims of U.S. orchestras well. He wrote tonally complex works that were nevertheless clear and easily graspable in their structure. The Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, written for the Boston Symphony Orchestra on the occasion of the composer's 80th birthday, is a good example. The original pianist, Jonathan Biss, reprises his role here and understands the work, which is intentionally not called a "Piano Concerto," as the composer wishes to express the balance between the piano and the orchestra. That's the main organizing principle: the balance grows more intricate over the course of the first movement but is not disrupted. The central movement is an especially effective nocturne (sample this), and the finale is an attractive virtuoso piece. The earlier Canti del Sole is a set of orchestral songs to poems about the sun; it's an earlier work, but clearly the product of the same composer. The most recent work is Music for Shoko: Aubade (2018), which is an arrangement of Rands' Concerto for English horn and orchestra of three years earlier. It adds up to work by a composer who is experiencing a remarkable run of late-life creativity, and one whom British audiences may well be delighted to rediscover.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Concerto for Piano and Orchestra|
|Canti del Sole for Tenor and Orchestra|