Olga Dudnik / Christopher Gunning

Christopher Gunning: Concerto for Piano and Orchestra; Storm; Symphony No. 1

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Best known for his scores for film and television, Christopher Gunning is also respected in Britain for his concert works, widely performed under his baton. Yet despite his professionalism and considerable skills as an orchestrator, Gunning lacks a strong, identifiable style, and his music is strangely amorphous, full of conventional effects and atmosphere, but undeveloped and deficient in energy, emotion, and purpose. The Concerto for piano and orchestra (2001) has a mild modernist edge, and outwardly resembles several twentieth century models. But the music is not especially riveting, and the choppy piano part has few moments of brilliance. Notwithstanding Olga Dudnik's determined performance, this concerto is hampered by a lethargic orchestral accompaniment, and the Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra has little to do. There are a few exciting passages in Storm! (2003), but its material is too block-like and tidy to convey the raging chaos its title suggests. The single-movement Symphony No. 1 (2002) is the tamest of this album's works, constructed in five sections like a medley or suite, but not functioning as parts of a tightly organized essay. Gunning's music in this work is bland and simplistic, and the triumphant ending seems unearned after so little conflict and development. Albany's recording is adequate, though subdued in tone and resonance.

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