Thursday 15 February 2018

Spices! Perfumes! Toxins!

Spices! Perfumes! Toxins! - ARS Produktions
Avner Dorman Spices! Perfumes! Toxins!, Paul Dukas L'apprenti sorcier; Dan Townsend, Aron Leijendeckers, Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie, Markus Huber
Reviewed by Robert Hugill on Feb 10 2018 Star rating: 3.0
An approachably melodic percussion concerto is the main interest in a slightly awkward pairing of works

This new disc rom ARS Produktion features the intriguing combination of Avner Dorman's 2006 percussion concerto Spices! Perfumes! Toxins! with Paul Dukas' 1897 scherzo L'apprenti sorcier with Dan Townsend and Aron Leijendeckers (percussion), the Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie (based in Ostwesfalen-Lippe, Germany), conductor Markus Huber. As the percussionists only feature as soloists in the concerto the link between the two works is perhaps the composers' colourful use of orchestration.

Born in Israel in 1975, Avner Dorman studied initially in Tel Aviv and then in the USA with John Corigliano at the Julliard School. His output includes concertos for saxophone, for mandolin and the percussion concerto Frozen Time. His opera Wahnfried premiered in Karlsruhe in January 2017. He wrote Spices! Perfumes! Toxins! for the Israeli percussion duo PecaDu in 2006.
Avner Dorman's language is tonal and he is not afraid of writing melodies. The opening movement, Spices! uses mainly the two percussionists on marimbas with material based on Middle Eastern and Indian music. The result is an attracively exotic mixture, the non-Western scales adding an ineresting colour to the material. Perfumes! explores more luxuriant textures, with vibraphone and a mix of non-Western scales and hints of jazz. With the intense rhythms the final movement Toxins! is more dramaatic. You can hear other influences in the music, when the percussionist move to untuned percussion I rather heard hints of Bernstein.

With his use of tuned percussion, Dorman solves the problem of how to incorporated percussive solo elements into a melodic-based concerto, and the rhythmic untunted sections provide a nice sense of contrast.

This is an attractive and approachable work which makes a fine showcase for the two percussionists, both members of the orchestra, and they play with lively vivacity. I thought it rather a shame that a coupling could not be found which utilised their talents as well. As it is we have an attractive performance of Dukas' L'apprenti sorcier but the two pieces sit slightly uneasily together.

At around 40 minutes in total, the disc is rather short (especially as the disc seems to be full price) and a more attractive coupling might have tempted more those interested in contemporary percussion music.

Avner Dorman (born 1975) - Spices! Perfumes! Toxins! [27.45]
Paul Dukas (1865-1935) - L'apprenti sorcier [11.46]
Dan Townsend (percussion)
Aron Lijendeckers (percussion)
Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie
Markus Huber (conductor)
Recorded 10-12/1/2017
Available from Amazon.

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