Stucky Pinturas de Tamayo
Although frequently acclaimed by press and public alike, Steven Stucky (60 last year) has been relatively under-represented on disc – making this BIS release the more welcome. Spirit Voices (2003) may open with a feisty solo cadenza but thereafter the relationship between percussion and orchestra is of the subtlest, with Stucky’s depiction of deities drawn from Oriental, Celtic and Amerindian cultures merging into a sequence as evocative as it is restrained. A Chicago Symphony commission, Pinturas de Tamayo (1995) draws on the more tangible imagery of Mexican artist Rufino Tamayo, but the music for the most part is hardly less understated – witness the luminous poise of “Sunset” or the rapt introspection of “The Great Galaxy” which makes for an unusually thoughtful apotheosis.
Stucky has long been an authority on the music of Lutosπawski, and while his Second Concerto for Orchestra (2003) has none of the latter’s folk-inflected abandon in his work of that name it is not lacking in dynamism, as the “Overture (with Friends)” immediately makes plain. The “Variations”, six ternary commentaries on a limpid woodwind theme, leave the strongest impression – besides creating an expressive tension that the “Finale” disperses in an uninhibited manner. This Pulitzer Prize-winning piece was written for the Los Angeles Philharmonic but the Singapore Symphony is not wanting in virtuosity. The recorded sound serves Stucky’s fastidious orchestral sense handsomely, and those looking for contemporary music that is approachable but never facile will find undoubted rewards here.