This Analekta release of new orchestral works features the powerful musical abilities of the Orchestre Classique de Montréal under the internationally respected Canadian conductor Boris Brott. The disc centres around the Azrieli Foundation’s prizes for newly created works. Two prizes are awarded: The Azrieli Prize for Jewish Music – recognizing an existing work – and the Azrieli commission for Jewish music, an initiative created to encourage composers to critically engage with the question of “What is Jewish music?”
The first piece on the disc – the premiere performance of En el escuro es todo uno (In the Darkness All is One) by Canadian composer Kelly-Marie Murphy – is a tour de force of orchestral imagination. Murphy is clearly a confident orchestral writer and it shows in this piece. The work is scored for solo harp, cello and orchestra, and Murphy expertly delivers a fine example of the concertante idiom. This piece represents the results of the 2018 Azrieli Commission Prize and features B.C. duo Couloir, Heidi Krutzen (harp) and Ariel Barnes (cello), as soloists.
The 2018 Azrieli Prize for Jewish Music was awarded to the Israeli-born composer Avner Dorman for Nigunim – a violin concerto in four movements. Dorman writes highly idiomatic and playful passages for the soloist answered by equally light dances and trifles in the orchestra. This work makes for an excellent showpiece for the soloist, Lara St. John in this instance, while not being overly dramatic in the virtuosic sense.
Last on the disc is a new recording of Seven Tableaux from the Song of Songs by the late Canadian composer Srul Irving Glick. This music is lyrical and melancholy. Glick had a particular affinity for creating an emotional painting with his music without being overtly sentimental. Soprano soloist Sharon Azrieli performs this work with stunning colour and musical prowess.