RSNO - Beaser: Guitar Concerto - The Herald

Following acclaimed recordings of Glazunov and the Sixth Symphony of Samuel Alder, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and conductor Jose Serebrier team up with guitarist Eliot Fisk on the music of the soloist's long-time associate, and another American composer, Robert Beaser. The premiere recording of the Guitar Concerto, a virtuoso piece written for (and with) Fisk, comes some seven years after its composition, and the solo Notes on a Southern Sky dates from thirty years before that, but Beaser's approach has the sort of timelessness for which he and his fellow "new tonalists" are presumably aiming.

The two orchestral pieces that complete the disc are both more dramatic and more problematic. Evening Prayer is a decade old, and written as a 50th anniversary showpiece for the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra, where Beaser had once been a percussionist. Ground O is an orchestration of part of a suite, Souvenirs, written in the aftermath of 9/11 (although the composer is clear that it is written and pronounced with a letter O, not zero) and originally for solo wind instrument and piano. Powerful works with attention-grabbing crescendos, some might hear bombast in their impact rather than emotional clout, but Serebrier does produce an enormous sound from the orchestra, exquisitely captured in the new RSNO Centre by producer and engineer Philip Hobbs.

The Herald
28 June 2017