"The Composer's Voice" a chance to hear the voices of tomorrow's music

Kevin Puts and Gabriela Lena Frank are the two most recent Composers-in-Residence at the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra. Some of their more sumptuous compositions are captured on a CD, "The Composer's Voice." Miguel Harth-Bedoya conducts the symphony is a series of live performances recorded and compiled to a unique glimpse of two promising composers who will undoubtedly be voices in tomorrow's classical music.

The CD begins with Kevin Puts' Violin Concerto featuring Michael Shih on violin. As the opening movement, "Meditation" begins the violin plays a beautifully tender melody. Occasionally dark and brooding, at other times sweet and delightful, the violin soars over the orchestra into the upper atmosphere. So often virtuosic moments are written simply to show off the skill of the soloist. Here, the virtuoso elements of the solo violin carry a sense of the overall flow of the piece, building as the orchestra builds. Eventually the piece begins to fade as the violin climbs higher and higher up to the heavens. The "Caprice" begins with a blistering violin part only to grow more intense as this short piece continues. It is perhaps fortunate this piece is only four minutes or Mr Shih's bow would certainly have caught fire. Maestro Harth-Bedoya masterfully places the Fort Worth Symphony superbly with the solo violin matching both timing and dynamics with perfection.

Later on the CD Kevin Puts' Symphony No. 3, "Vespertine" is showcased. Indicative of Mr Puts musical style, the opening movement captures a lovely melody in a flute solo. As the solo moves to the oboe, clarinet and eventually to a muted trumpet, the shift of the tonal color is blurred with spectacular orchestration. We can hear the music, but the shift of the color goes unnoticed until it has moved well away from the original sonic-scape, much like a snake in the grass in only noticed by the shifting blades after the snake has passed. This writhing of timbre continues through the next two movements utilizing orchestral sections as well as solo instruments. Attempting to capture the swirling microbeats of Icelandic composer Björk, Kevin Puts uses his own voice (and technique) to create a lovely symphony.

Gabriela Lena Frank comes from a diverse background, her father an American of Lithuanian Jewish heritage while her mother is of Peruvian of Chinese descent. Ms Frank's two pieces on this CD capture a sense of Andean music with "Elegia Andina" (Andean Elegy) and "Leyendas: An Andean Walkabout." Both pieces are strong rhythmically with the "Elegia Andina" utilizing dark, tormented orchestration to create a sense of lament. Ms Frank uses both strident strings and softer woodwind duets and solos to capture the dramatic penetration of the music. The piece ends with a haunting clarinet solo.

With "Leyendas: An Andean Walkabout" Gabriela Lena Frank uses a series of short pieces to create a sense of a fantasy convention in the Andes. Throughout the piece there is a strong sense of the indigenous. "Tarqueada" (a Bolivian dance) uses glissando's in the strings with stunning effect. "Himno de Zampoñas" captures the pan like instruments of the Andeas as the strings use sul ponticello to recreate the hollow sound. The orchestration and tonal color just gets better and better with each new piece, culminating in a strong Spanish styled dance, fast and flirtatious.

Miguel Harth-Bedoya and the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra captured the voices of these composers beautifully on "The Composer's Voice." Every nuance of the music is captured, with the subtle shifts in orchestration demanded by both composers beautifully brought to life. This is the sound of the future and in some respects the sound of the past, as Kevin Puts and Gabriela Lena Frank put their skills as composers with the great tradition of classical composition into these new works.


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