Leonardo Balada/ Benjamin Lees/ Ellen Taaffe Zwilich

Composer(s): Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, Benjamin Lees, Leonardo Balada
Album Title: Music for Oboe and Orchestra/ Concerto for French Horn and Orchestra/ Concerto for Bassoon and Orchestra 
Cat. No.: 80503
Genre: Classical
Description: Leonardo Balada: Music for Oboe and Orchestra
Benjamin Lees: Concerto for French Horn and Orchestra
Ellen Taaffe Zwilich: Concerto for Bassoon and Orchestra

Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra / Lorin Maazel

The three wind concerti presented on this disc were commissioned for principals of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and are world-premiere recordings. They explore the unique expressive capabilities of each instrument within the context of the concerto form. The compositional language in all cases is one firmly grounded in tonality yet each work bears the unique and unmistakeable stamp of  their creator's voice.

Leonardo Balada's Music for Oboe and Orchestra: Lament from the Cradle of the Earth combines a one-movement concerto and a tone poem. Its virtuoso character conforms with the former, while its dark, brooding drama suggests the latter in this musical illustration of the struggle of humanity and nature to co-exist.

Benjamin Lees boasts a rather sizable and varied portfolio of compositions that includes five symphonies. His style is conservative but spiked with highly energized rhythmic complexities, spicy harmonic clashes, and a strong lyrical impulse. His Concerto for French Horn and Orchestra exemplifies these characteristics—a lyrical slow movement sandwiched between two sweeping, dramatically charged outer movements. A major contribution to the literature for this instrument.

Ellen Taaffe Zwilich is a Pulitzer Prize-winning composer whose works have been performed by all the leading American orchestras. The Concerto for Bassoon and Orchestra is one of her series of compositions for various instruments and orchestra. In contrast to its customary portrayal as the comedian of the orchestra, Zwilich exploits the bassoon's inherently wide range of expression, from fluid, vocal, singing lines to wildly virtuosic fast passages, set against a kaleidoscopic orchestral backdrop.

The performances by  the three dedicatees fully realize the virtuosic and expressive demands of the music, complemented by the impeccable playing of  the Pittsburgh Symphony under maestro Maazel's inspired direction. 
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