The Five Sacred Trees
Commissioned by the NYPO for its sesquicentennial in 1995, John Williams’s concerto for bassoon and orchestra was inspired by the five sacred trees of Celtic mythology, as well as the composer’s own profound love of the forest. “Within the tree community,” writes Williams in Sony’s exemplary booklet, “there lies more music than anywhere else in the Western world. It is impossible to stand under the high arching boughs of ancient trees and not wonder if the architecture of cathedrals was not born of just such an experience.” Certainly, the ruminative strains of the opening movement, “Eo Mugna” (The Oak), effortlessly convey an awestruck contemplation and strong sense of pantheistic wonder. Next comes the jig-like “Tortan” (The Tree of Witchcraft), which is portrayed in music of infectious mischief and bounce (with just a nod of acknowledgement to Dukas’s
The arboreal theme continues with Toru Takemitsu’s Tree line, an ecstatically luminous ten-minute essay dating from 1988, orchestrated with exquisite delicacy. The performance of Alan Hovhaness’s Second Symphony (Mysterious mountain) swells the number of current versions listed on the
An appealing and enterprising anthology, beautifully realized by all involved.'