Superb collection of works by Kenneth Fuchs

Kenneth Fuchs: Piano Concerto ‘Spiritualist’, Poems of Life, Glacier, Rush

London Symphony Orchestra, JoAnn Falletta
Kenneth Fuchs, composer

Kenneth Fuchs is a contemporary American composer and conductor. Kenneth Fuchs has composed music for orchestra, band, voice, chorus, and various chamber ensembles.

For those who are unfamiliar with the music of Kenneth Fuchs this new release in Naxos’ American Classics series provides a wonderful introduction. This is, in fact, the fifth album of Fuchs’s music to be released in the above series and all have been performed by the London Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of JoAnn Falletta.

This release contains four works: Piano Concerto “Spiritualist”Poems of LifeGlacier and Rush. The opening piano concerto is in three movements each of which represents a large-scale painting by Helen Frankenthaler. The final movement, with its jazzy syncopations and barnstorming finale is particularly successful. The excellent soloist Jeffrey Biegel copes with the technical demands of the work with impressive mastery and relates to the orchestra perfectly.

This is followed by the song-cycle Poems of Life (2017) is based on Twelve Poems by Judith G. Wolf. This is sung by the counter-tenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen who also performed the work at its premiere.

Glacier is a truly delightful virtuoso concerto, for electric guitar and orchestra, inspired by the sweeping vistas of Montana. It is a five movement work; each of which is based on the composer’s aural conception of the natural elements in Glacier National Park and Yellowstone National Park: Glacier, Rivulets, Vapor, Stone and Going to the Sun. The last movement being a musical ode to the scenic Going-to-the-Sun Road in northwest Montana. On hearing this work, in a first rate performance from both the electric guitarist D. J. Sparr and the London Symphony Orchestra, one cannot help but wonder why more composers have not conceived concertos for the electric guitar and orchestra.

The recording is rounded off by a third concerto, Rush, for alto saxophone¹. Once again we get first rate performances from soloist Timothy McAllister and the orchestra.

This is an outstanding recording both in terms of the excellent Naxos engineering and the the quality of the soloists, orchestra and conductor. JoAnn Falletta and the London Symphony Orchestra seem to gain a closer affinity with the music of Kenneth Fuchs with each new release. All music lovers should give this album a try – Kenneth Fuchs is a master of orchestration and he writes tonal music of great imagination, some of which is not too far removed from film music.

iClassical rating: 

¹ I would love to hear Jess Gillam perform this piece!