Giancarlo Guerrero / Nashville Symphony

Terry Riley: The Palmian Chord Ryddle; At the Royal Majestic

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The late career of Terry Riley, who was 82 years old when the later of these two works, At the Royal Majestic, was recorded for this album in 2017, has received less attention than that of Philip Glass or even Steve Reich. The resurgent Nashville Symphony under Giancarlo Guerrero makes a good case here that such neglect is misguided. Riley has written a number of concertos in the 2000s, often for specific instrumentalists, and the two works here are concertos of vastly different character. The motor rhythms of early minimalism are used, but by this time they are more an accent than a structural element. The Palmian Chord Ryddle (2011) is an eclectic, playful eight-movement work for electric violin and orchestra, with the electric violin of Nashville's Tracy Silverman offering some quartet-like effects, but steering mostly clear of highly extended techniques. The "Palmian Chord" of the title is a cluster-like sonority of Riley's own devising, appearing at the beginning. Several movements have a strong jazz influence -- sample the "Slow Drag" -- effectively set off against the Indian sounds of "Gandhi-Ji's Danda" and other contrasting sections. The piece, although fully notated, has a loose, improvisatory feel. Even stronger is At the Royal Majestic, an homage to the golden age of the theater organ, for which Todd Wilson and his Martin Foundation Concert Organ provide an effective stand-in. Engineering kudos go to producer Tim Handley and engineer Gary Call for maintaining clarity in an extremely diverse set of materials. Highly recommended.

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