Dan Locklair: Orchestral Music. Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra, Kirk Trevor, conductor; Jozef Zsapka, guitar; Gregory D'Agostino, organ; Albany Troy 517, ©2002, 63:50, $16.95.
This CD contains six works by the composer-in-residence at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, four of them single movement (two of these being concerto works) and two multiple movement, though played without pause. The opener is the 1993 three-movement Hues (actually three brief inter-related tone poems named "Cloudburst," "Moonshine," "Sunburst"). The 1988 guitar fanfare/concertino Dayspring follows, with the 1984 five-movement In the Autumn Days symphony for chamber orchestra following that. Next up is the 1987 prelude for orchestra Creation's Seeing Order built on the note C (pun intended!). Then comes the 1995 organ concerto Ere long we shall see , whose organist in the recording was its creator at the world première in New York's Cathedral of St. John the Divine on the occasion of the 1996 centennial convention of the American Guild of Organists, its commissioner. Although in one movement, it has three distinct sections. The closing work is the 1986 (rev. 1990 & 1999) When Morning Stars Begin to Fall , a tone poem inspired by an original poem whose text is provided and by a folk song from the NC mountains with a similar title and whose tune is freely quoted.
The pieces do tend to have something of a sameness about them, often including fanfare-like sections/moments, celebratory, evocative, and ethereal ones with brass, woodwinds, and percussion being generally featured somewhat more often than strings, but there is nonetheless variety, development, thematic interrelationships, and progression as the music of each unfolds. Locklair's background is in sacred choral music, and that spirit informs and imbues these orchestral pieces as well, several of which had their inspiration in Biblical scripture or in church hymns. Some sections have a slightly Oriental flavor. The music is both melodic and colorful, but not showy or bombastic; its lyricism and lushness are restrained. In the accompanying 12-page booklet, the composer has supplied voluminous notes detailing the extra-musical inspiration and the structure of each of the works. Composer and artist bios are also provided, as are the pipes of the four-manual + trumpet and pedal Radio Hall Organ (Rieger-Kloss, Op. 3500, 1979) in Bratislava, Slovakia. It is an exemplary document of its kind, and well nigh error-free, a rarity these days.
Locklair's (b.1949) musical voice is distinctly American; the listener would not mistake it as coming from any other culture. It is also distinctly his: while there are elements that call to mind music of some of his earlier 20th-century predecessors such as Griffes, Grofé, MacDowell, or Copland, and of some more recent contemporaries such as Hovhaness, Thomson, Bernstein, or Williams, it is not derivative. It is impossible to know what will be played 50 or 100 years from now, but this music probably has a better chance of surviving in the repertoire than some of the more esoteric, dissonant, repetitive, or experimental compositions of others among his contemporaries. This is a fine recording from performance and technical standpoints as well and easily warrants and gives pleasure in repeated listenings. Highly recommended.