Jeffrey Silberschlag / Richard Stoltzman

Roger Davidson: Mandala

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Roger Davidson's Mandala may appeal to extremely conservative listeners and fans of crossover music, but others may find that this album offers only superficial exercises in internationalism and kitsch. If klezmer, Hungarian folk music, Appalachian hymns, and Indian ragas are blended in a contemporary but "safe" classical style, then the confused results will likely match Davidson's music for armchair travelers. Attempting to create his own brand of world music, Davidson aims widely for easy effects, but does not go deeply enough into himself or the cultures he imitates, and his music neither moves nor enlightens. Indeed, it does the opposite, for the clich├ęs in the Rhapsody for trumpet, strings, and percussion, the Meditation and Dance for clarinet and orchestra, and the Meditation for trumpet and strings reinforce stereotypes, and Davidson only reveals his modest skills as a pasticheur. Worse still, his music shows little invention in its lackluster orchestration, bland harmonies, and forgettable, quasi-ethnic melodies, which are over-spiced with that hackneyed exotic interval, the augmented second. With uninspired performances from trumpeter Jeffrey Silberschlag, clarinetist Richard Stoltzman, the London Symphony Orchestra and the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Kirk Trevor and Carl St. Clair, this CD offers precious little to appreciate under its multicultural surface.

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