Getty, G Orchestral Works

Melodic and memorable music from a West Coast-based composer

Author: 
Ivan March

Getty, G Orchestral Works

  • Plump Jack, Overture
  • Ancestor Suite
  • Tiefer und Tiefer
  • Homework Suite
  • (The) Fiddler of Ballykeel
  • Raise the Colors

There are a growing number of composers of a new generation who are writing music aimed at the ordinary music lover, and who have returned to the idea that music should be both tuneful and directly communicative. Gordon Getty (b1933, son of J Paul Getty and San Francisco-based) shows that the tuneful contagion has spread across the Atlantic and, fascinatingly and unexpectedly, his melodic style is in no way jazz-based. “I am two-thirds a 19th-century composer,” he has remarked without apology. His opera Plump Jack tracks the fictional career of Shakespeare’s Falstaff and the Overture portrays its hero with jollity and pathos, if not a great deal of wit. But the Ancestor and Homework Suites offer a winning series of orchestral miniatures, beautifully, sometimes robustly scored.

There is much gossamer delicacy in the strings in the lovely Berceuse from the Homework Suite, and also the tenderly delightful portrait of Madeline in the Ancestor Suite. This is part of a ballet based on Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher and the following number, “Ewig Du”, describes Madeline’s sinister final dance to her death.

Getty is taken with writing waltz themes and there are some memorable examples here. The opening “Seascape” of Tiefer und Tiefer is hauntingly memorable, while the following “Giga” using solo piccolo and violin makes a piquant contrast. The Fiddler of Ballykeel is engagingly, rhythmically folksy, while Raise the Colors is spectacularly scored for wind and percussion with roistering horns, to close the programme in the highest of spirits. Marriner and the Academy play all this music with great character and finesse, and the pianissimo strings are often exquisitely beautiful. Very good, resonantly realistic recording, though careful balancing between the four speakers is essential. If you admire melodies, as do I, there are plenty to enjoy here.

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© MA Business and Leisure Ltd. 2017