JoAnn Falletta / London Symphony Orchestra

Kenneth Fuchs: Atlantic Riband; American Rhapsody; Divinum Mysterium

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Kenneth Fuchs, who teaches at the University of Connecticut, has gained attention on both sides of the Atlantic for broadly appealing compositions in a largely tonal idiom reminiscent in many gestures of the music of Aaron Copland. Two works here, Atlantic Riband and American Rhapsody, are patriotic crowd-pleasers in a long tradition; the former work alludes to the ocean liners that brought so many millions of immigrants to the U.S. Yet Fuchs combines these qualities with a variety of purely abstract procedures that keep you listening after the big tunes wear away. Perhaps the album's most effective work, not even mentioned in the graphics, is the Concerto Grosso, a sort of Mahlerian take on the Baroque form, setting a string quartet against a string orchestra in a pleasing variety of textures amplified by luscious harmonies. Divinum mysterium, a viola concerto, is not a vocal work but a development on a piece of plainchant that has also played a rule in one of Fuchs' string quartets. The program ends with a vigorous overture, Discover the Wild. Conductor JoAnn Falletta, leading the London Symphony Orchestra, is an ideal ambassador for this kind of music, which anyone sitting at a free outdoor summer concert might enjoy, but which holds up to repeated hearings. Recommended, especially to symphonic programmers.

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