Even though John Corigliano has proved himself time and again to be a master of instrumental colors and orchestration, he nonetheless had misgivings about composing a concerto for percussion, a daunting prospect merely because of the large number of instruments at his disposal. Yet Corigliano succeeded brilliantly in Conjurer (2007), the tour de force he composed for Evelyn Glennie, who is universally recognized as the world's foremost percussion virtuoso. And it's all on display in this head-spinning demonstration of percussion instruments, designated in separate families as wood, metal, and skin, with each movement anticipated by a preparatory cadenza. Glennie not only sets the pace in these free-ranging cadenzas, but also provides material for the string orchestra to reiterate and develop, to astounding results. The second piece on this disc is Vocalise (1999), a work for soprano Hila Plitmann and electronics, produced and performed by Mark Baechle. Here, Corigliano exploits the voice's flexibility of pitch and tonal control through the layering of electronic sounds, coinciding with the wordless melody and expanding into a surprisingly effective orchestral accompaniment. The Albany Symphony, conducted by David Alan Miller, is the orchestra in question, and the deep and resonant sonorities it produces are a vibrant background that lets Glennie and Plitmann shine.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Conjurer, concerto for percussionist and string orchestra, with optional brass|