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MARK O'CONNOR.
Double Violin Concerto; Appalachia Waltz; Johnny Appleseed Suite; Amazing Grace.

Mark O'Connor, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, violins; John Jarvis, piano; Bryan Sutton, guitar. Colorado Symphony, Marin Alsop, cond.
OMAC 8, 59:39
allegro-music.com; markoconnor.com

Review by Steve Koenig


The Double Violin Concerto is a delight, played with aplomb. It begins with a string figure well-known to aficionados of disco-music ca. 1977, and soon hits the barnyard, all the while totally steering clear of that turkey in the straw. Excellent solo and duo sections, and again - you can't use the word aplomb twice, and panache is too hi-falutin'. This opening movement is titled "Swing." II ("Midnight On The Dance Room Floor") is unfortunately gooey at the start, and alludes to everything American from Copland to Gershwin and Korngold, but it is deliciously orchestrated and ultimately, charming. It closes in "Dixieland," cake-walking and spotlighting the clarinet, of course, but it's, naturally, the fiddling which is featured. After all, this is a concerto for two violins. None of the Double Concerto is tacky; it shouldn't be labelled "crossover," however it would be a shame if it didn't sell in crossover quantities.

The seven-minute Appalachia Waltz for violin duo is subtle and quite tender.

The Johnny Appleseed Suite is in four movements, runs eighteen minutes, and is slight; it could easily be used for a teevee movie soundtrack: each movement could be called a theme: "Marching Along The Ohio Frontier," with flute and guitar featured, "Johnny's Apple Pie," "Three Angel Brides," and "The Life and Times of Johnny Appleseed." I guess I was close: the liner notes explain this was written for a "folk ensemble" for a children's recording narrated by Garrison Keillor.

The disc closes with a brief arrangement of "Amazing Grace" for violin and orchestra. It's pretty.

I still laud the Double Concerto. Kudos to all the players.




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