Although Leslie Bassett's vibrant works for large orchestra are widely respected and recognized with prestigious awards, they are inadequately represented in the major labels' catalogs. However, this release helps redress the deficiency and offers three exciting works that show Bassett at the peak of his creative powers. Sing, Breathe and Burn is one of Bassett's most brilliantly colored and intensely focused essays, and reminiscent in some telling ways of Bartók, a profound influence. The Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Vít Micka, delivers a glistening performance that fully conveys Bassett's mystical expression through scintillating sonorities. The Concerto Lirico for trombone and orchestra seems to be a personal statement -- the instrument was Bassett's own -- and consequently eschews virtuosity for a more thoughtful, song-like approach. The work's long phrases are well suited to soloist H. Dennis Smith's controlled playing, and he is allowed to demonstrate the trombone's full range of tones. The masterful Concerto for orchestra is, like the first work, vividly scored and shimmers with magical effects; yet for all its dazzling technical displays, it is one of Bassett's most intellectually unified and powerfully expressive achievements. Gerard Schwarz and the Seattle Symphony Orchestra perform the concerto with superior skill and energy, and render it with a rich ensemble sound that reflects their full commitment. MMC's sound quality is terrific in climaxes, though a little distant in softer passages.
AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Concerto Lirico, for trombone & orchestra|