Baird Dodge, principal second violin of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, gave the world premiere of American composer James Matheson’s Violin Concerto with the CSO under Esa-Pekka Salonen here in 2011. Yarlung Records has issued an all-Matheson disc anchored by a composite of those live performances, and it’s a winner. The concerto is a supercharged neo-romantic showpiece, two perpetual-motion outer movements surrounding a lyrical chaconne. Brilliantly played by its dedicatee and his orchestral colleagues, the concerto shares disc space with two Matheson chamber works that make the recording well worth checking out. Please enjoy John’s full article in the Tribune. Thank you John!
James Matheson: Violin Concerto, String Quartet, Times Alone Baird Dodge, violin; Esa-Pekka Salonen, Chicago Symphony Orchestra; Color Field Quartet; Laura Strickling, soprano; Thomas Sauer, piano The two-channel version of this release, fine in its own right, is available on CD and on three individual LPs: Yarlung YAR65005-670V, YAR25668-670V, and YAR25669-670V. However, my real motivation for this R2D4 listing is the DSD256 five-channel version, downloadable from NativeDSD. With no prior knowledge or expectations of James Matheson’s music, the slashing opening of Taut, energetic, the aptly titled first movement of his String Quartet, hooked me. Not only was the music gripping and appealing, the multichannel sound was completely involving. Matheson is a living composer for whom direct and emotional communication is not compromised by an unintelligible style or obscured by adherence to dated ones. His String Quartet is dramatic, his Violin Concerto virtuosic and witty, and oh, the lovely songs of Times Continue Reading →
The Chicago Symphony Orchestra celebrates Jim Matheson and Baird Dodge and the release of their new Yarlung CD The odds were slim that Baird Dodge, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s principal second violin, and James Matheson, a New York-based composer, would have met some 25 years ago while attending Swarthmore College. Though Dodge studied violin at The Juilliard School in its pre-college division, his undergraduate major at Swarthmore was chemistry. Matheson, born in the Midwest, was a philosophy and music major, yet his preferred instrument was electric guitar, which he played in a rock band. But strike up a friendship they did, and Dodge is the featured soloist with the CSO in a new CD release from Yarlung Records that features Matheson’s Violin Concerto, conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen. A co-commission with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the piece was written for Dodge and recorded during its world premiere performances in December 2011 Continue Reading →
James Mathesons String Quartet was premiered by the St. Lawrence String Quartet in February 2014 and is played here by the Color Field Quartet. It’s an accessible three-movement work of decided substance, with some excellent instrumental writing and a lot of energy. The leader of the quartet, Baird Dodge, has been principal second violin with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra since 2002, and is the soloist in … Matheson’s Violin Concerto. Matheson and Dodge were roommates at college in the 1990s, and Dodge had harboured the idea of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra commissioning a violin concerto from Matheson ever since joining the orchestra. It finally came to fruition as a co-commission with the Los Angeles Philharmonic when conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen added his support. The recording here is of the concerto’s premiere performance on December 15, 2011, in Chicago with Salonen leading the CSO with Dodge as the soloist. It’s a striking work Continue Reading →
October 20, 2016 Voices from the Heart Mark Estren reviews Yarlung’s new CD “James Matheson” on INFODAD.com: …it is the vocal work, Times Alone, that is most immediately striking. It is a setting, in English, of five surrealist poems from the 1907 collection called Soledades, galerias y otros poemas by Antonio Machado (1875-1939). The emotional progression of the poems is handled particularly adeptly by [soprano] Laura Strickling and [pianist] Thomas Sauer: the first three poems are on the light, even playful side, but the last two become more thoughtful, serious and introspective, and the works’ imagery is well-reflected in Matheson’s nicely proportioned settings. Like the other works here, Times Alone was recorded live in performance…. …Matheson is a highly interesting composer whose work genuinely seeks to reach out to audiences, and this recording is as good an introduction to (or exploration of) the forms in which he works as anyone Continue Reading →
Yarlung | Amazon | iTunes | NativeDSD | HD Tracks The original review in German James Matheson: String Quartet, Konzert für Violine und Orchester, Times Alone; Color Field Quartet, Baird Dodge, Violine, Laura Strickling, Sopran, Thomas Sauer, Klavier, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Esa-Pekka Salonen; 1 CD Yarlung 25670; Aufnahmen 12/2011 und 11/2015 (77’59) – Rezension von Uwe Krusch When European orchestras perform in Asia, the audience generally looks forward to hearing European compositions. When American or Asian orchestras travel to Europe, however, European audiences normally hear only a smattering of American or Asian music on those programs, perhaps an overture or so. For these reasons, it is rare to hear a concert in Europe made up of music written elsewhere. Even classics like those written by Leonard Bernstein rarely show up on serious programs, except perhaps for dances from West Side Story. One feels very fortunate to hear the occasional work by Copland or Adams. If Continue Reading →
This is my first encounter with the music of James Matheson, an American composer whose music is both colourful and accessible. What better introduction could there be – a concerto, a string quartet and a song-cycle. The recording was sponsored by J and Helen Schlichting of California, who also commissioned the String Quartet. At 18 minutes the Quartet’s opening movement is the most substantial and ambitious. It begins with a swirling coruscation of sound, persistently driven and underpinned by motoric rhythms. There’s a feel of forward momentum and purposeful direction. In the central section, where the music is more relaxed, each instrument is given the opportunity to state its case. Then the energy returns in the form of declamatory sweeps. The slow movement is intensely lyrical, but the emotion is tinged with melancholy and sadness. At one point it reaches a passionate climax. The finale is, as it states on Continue Reading →