In Sunday’s (3/15) Los Angeles Times, Randy Lewis writes about fiddler and composer Mark O’Connor. “Over the last two decades, O’Connor has built an imposing repertoire of his own compositions, including his piano trio ‘Poets and Prophets,’ inspired by [Johnny] Cash’s life and music. Among other pieces of music, he’s written six concertos, three string quartets, six caprices and other works for solo violin (among them his signature ‘Appalachia Waltz’). The world premiere recording of what might be his most ambitious work yet, the six-movement ‘Americana Symphony’ as played by the Baltimore Symphony under conductor Marin Alsop, will be released Tuesday on O’Connor’s own Omac record label. … O’Connor’s ‘Americana Symphony,’ subtitled ‘Variations on Appalachia Waltz,’ is as unrepentantly tonal, accessibly melodic and sonically spacious as a great Elmer Bernstein film score. As in most of his work, themes develop, mutate and transform with complex passage work that often incorporates bent notes or pulsing rhythms drawn from jazz, country, folk and blues sources. … ‘It’s the same thing [Astor] Piazzolla did in his native Argentina, what Bartók did in Hungary and what Tan Dun is doing in China, [O’Connor says]. It’s not a new concept. It’s just new in American classical circles.’ ”
Posted March 18, 2009