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"Our dauntless man with a baton..." NORMAN LEBRECHT

Douglas Knehans – Concertos





DRIFT (for oboe and strings)
CASCADE (concerto for orchestra)

Vladislav Borovka, oboe
Brno Philharmonic Orchestra
Mikel Toms, conductor

Knehans describes Drift for oboe and strings as an attempt to suspend time. Here, “drama is not a player and things slowly morph and unfold,” in the composer’s own words. Oboist Vladislav Borovka offers splendid playing, and the Brno recording engineers offer an even better recording, present yet not overly forward. This piece is absolutely beautiful. The shadowings of the oboe theme by the orchestra around the six-minute mark (when some sort of movement seems to seek to creep in) are most effective. There is an element of slowly unfolding endless melody to the oboe’s line…

Finally, the concerto for orchestra Cascade. There is a very arresting beginning, especially when heard in contrast with preceding two pieces. The orchestral writing is magnificent (and beautifully realized here). Inspired by the idea of piano resonance and how these sounds could be interpreted as “clouds of water and the various forms these take in the natural world,” this idea is reflected in the three movement titles of “Drift Echo,” “Waves,” and “Torrent.” The fierce, feisty opening to “Drift Echo” contrasts with playful, skittering woodwind. At times the music seems to nod towards Janáček (the Sinfonietta). The second movement is truly beautiful and includes some lovely bell-like descending figures leading into its climax. There are, perhaps, hints of the Dies irae, which coupled with the bell references seems to imply some sort of reference to Rachmaninoff. The finale is energetic and serious, and again scored with a light, imaginative touch. All credit to the virtuosity of the Brno Philharmonic and the expert ear of their conductor, Mikel Toms, for delivering such a razor-sharp performance. A fascinating disc.

Fanfare Magazine

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