David Alan Miller / Albany Symphony Orchestra

Michael Torke: Sky

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This set of concertos for violin, bassoon, oboe, and clarinet by composer Michael Torke earned a Grammy award nomination in 2019 for violinist Tessa Lark (one awaits her recording of The Lark Ascending). That work, billed as a fusion of classical and bluegrass music, has gotten most of the attention, and indeed anyone who likes, say, mandolinist Chris Thile's ventures into classical music will enjoy it. Lark is a Kentucky native whose background includes both classical music and bluegrass, not an easy combination to find. However, the other works on the album shouldn't be neglected. Torke has been called a post-minimalist composer, which can mean a lot of things, but the other concertos on the album offer admirable examples of his ability to fuse minimalist and classical languages. In the Andantino of West: Concerto for bassoon, the soloist's melody dances nicely between repetition and directed motion, with the subtlety caught by bassoonist Peter Kolkay. All the concerto movements are short and easy on the ears, and the various soloists, along with the Albany Symphony Orchestra under David Alan Miller, treat them with appropriate grace rather than leaning too hard on the sentimental crossover aspects. An ideal introduction to the work of this appealing crossover composer.

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