Kevin Puts: Symphony No. 2; Flute Concerto; River's Rush

Adam Walker / Marin Alsop / Peabody Symphony Orchestra

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Kevin Puts: Symphony No. 2; Flute Concerto; River's Rush Review

by Blair Sanderson

For this 2016 Naxos release, Marin Alsop and the Peabody Symphony Orchestra present three world-premiere recordings of works by Kevin Puts, one of the most significant contemporary American composers and winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 2012. The Symphony No. 2 (2002), River's Rush (2004), and the Flute Concerto (2013, revised 2014) reveal Puts as a master of orchestral sonorities and a tone poet of moods, which range from the ecstatic to the elegiac. The Symphony No. 2 is a powerful evocation of 9/11, and Puts creates an atmosphere of tragedy that shifts from the innocent tonal ululations of the opening to a violent cataclysm, which then resolves in a meditative section that nevertheless ends with uncertainty. River's Rush, ostensibly inspired by the Mississippi River, is a perpetuum mobile for orchestra that depicts the water's raging currents in rapid successions of short motives. The Flute Concerto offers the most recognizable form in its three movements, opening with a poignantly lyrical section in the Americana style of Copland, which is followed by a nocturnal Andante, a parody of Mozart's "Elvira Madigan" Piano Concerto, and a fantastic toccata finale that Adam Walker plays with impressive virtuosity. This album is a fine introduction to a rising composer whose music is highly accessible, emotionally satisfying, and memorable.

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