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Mark O'Connor's modern Four Seasons

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Showing 1-12 of 12 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 10 Jan 2014 13:30:49 GMT
Huck Flynn says:
i have been a fan of american session country/bluegrass fiddler Mark O'Connor as an amazing player but also as a composer i was recently blown away by his American Seasons album with Boston-based Metamorphosen Chamber Orchestra. Not vivaldi style but shade of Copland, and even Gershwin.
Has anyone else heard the album with a 4 part Concerto, a Suite and an adaptation of his lovely Appalachia Waltz ?

Posted on 10 Jan 2014 14:39:21 GMT
Lez Lee says:
Just had a listen on Spotty and have ordered it as a result! It's available for under £3 at the moment.
Thanks Huck ;-)

Posted on 10 Jan 2014 17:45:48 GMT
Bruce says:
I thought our Nigel was bad enough - monster! ;-)

Posted on 10 Jan 2014 18:58:52 GMT
Lez Lee says:
Nothing to do with Vivaldi, Bruce.

In reply to an earlier post on 13 Jan 2014 12:56:33 GMT
Huck Flynn says:
i was captivated Lez - he's a superb violinist but the orchestration is lovely. I suspect some of our more learned listeners may find it a bit low brow. He can certainly be a bit of a show off and his work with the Nashville Cats, while impressive, leaves me pretty cold, but this stuff seems "from the heart".

Posted on 13 Jan 2014 13:02:21 GMT
Nugent Dirt says:
He's also a cracking bluegass flatpicker as well. One mega talented dude for sure. You can pretty much check out his work on many Rounder releases.

Posted on 23 Jan 2014 20:58:00 GMT
Roasted Swan says:
Huck - I spent quite a bit of time today listening to my copy of this album which arrived recently. My initial thoughts (initial is very much the key word!) is that O'Connor is a better player than composer. Positives are a very well engineered and excellently played album both from O'Connor and the orchestra. The Suite I like as an immediately appealing kind of musical "sampler" of American popular music styles. Another positive is just how brilliantly 'inside' the various idioms O'Connor is. Its really really hard for a non-folk/jazz/bluegrass etc player to emulate these styles - it can just sound forced - O'Connor is absolutely on top of the genre.

The American Seasons were more of a disappointment - particularly in a cumulative sense. It starts really well - excitingly dynamic and thrillingly played ..... but then does not really develop. The harmonic language is disappointingly conservative - even within a jazz rather than classical idiom - and the odd diversions into a kind of baroquey sequential writing simply ineffective. By far the most interesting passage is the long cadenza towards the end of Winter - here O'Connor really shows off his technical chops. Nothing but praise for all the players and a piece that must be exciting in a one-off concert but for repeated listening simply not enough musical meat for me.

I have a great admiration for Roby Lakatos and Pavel Sporcl Gypsy Way - who do similar stuff with their own country's fiddle music. Probably even better technicians than O'connor

In reply to an earlier post on 24 Jan 2014 08:30:57 GMT
Last edited by the author on 24 Jan 2014 08:31:38 GMT
Bruce says:
Nick - did you see Nigel Kennedy doing the four seasons at the Proms this year? It was broadcast on TV (BBC4 I think?) as well. He had a group of young players from around the world who were stunning - they played some of the Vivaldi, then went off into improvised variations - there was a Palestinian player, who played some very unusual stuff - but the whole evening was very interesting - starting with something so familiar and then making you hear this differently by juxtaposition! :-)

A treat for string players!

In reply to an earlier post on 24 Jan 2014 10:48:24 GMT
Roasted Swan says:
Bruce - no I didn't but will follow your link. Important to note O'Connor's 4 Seasons have nothing to do with Vivaldi - all his own creation - and in fact follows the "7 Ages of Man" concept rather than the meteorological one - rather like Arthur Bliss did in Adam Zero (a score I like a lot). Of course the "other" 4 Seasons worth hearing is Astor Piazolla's Piazzolla: Sinfonia Buenos Aire (Sinfonia Buenos Aires/ Four Seasons/ Aconcagua)

Posted on 24 Jan 2014 12:32:55 GMT
Bruce says:
I know, but Nigel's does! :-)

Posted on 24 Jan 2014 13:14:37 GMT
Lez Lee says:
My favourite 4 Seasons version is by Red Priest. I won tickets to see them a couple of years ago and they have a really fresh and interesting approach. It was an all-Bach programme (Johann - I'm only dancing) - not my usual taste, but they were brilliant. Lots of young people there too.

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Jan 2014 12:11:36 GMT
Huck Flynn says:
Nick - that's probably a fair critique (i'm not really qualified to judge) - he is a superb player and technical stylist - the sample aspect probablt inhibits the structure and flow of the piece as a compositional whole. Enough for me that i enjoy is greatly.
I see Nigel Kennedy's name mentioned in relation to the Vivaldi - i have to say i really like his brahms concerto. compostionally in a differentv league to o'connor.
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Participants:  5
Total posts:  12
Initial post:  10 Jan 2014
Latest post:  27 Jan 2014

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