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James Matheson (b.1970): String Quartet; Violin Concerto; Times Alone for voice & piano / Baird Dodge, violin; Laura Strickling, soprano; Thomas Sauer, piano. Chicago SO

Notes & Reviews:

James Matheson composed his Violin Concerto specifically for violinist Baird Dodge, conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Having lived in many places, Matheson feels as if Los Angeles "claimed him as their own". While in Los Angeles, Mathson has served as the director for the LA Phil Composer Fellowship Program, mentoring a number of young people, as they navigate the perilous, sometimes lonely and often exhilarating career into which their talents propel them. "Although this recording celebrates the wonderful music of James Matheson, Baird Dodge was the secret force that enabled the whole enterprise to reach fruition. The Violin Concerto was written for him. He played the premiere performance that is memorialized here. A streamed recording of that performance was briefly available on the Chicago Symphony Orchestra website was what convinced me to pursue Jim for our first commissioning project. Baird is a key player in Color Field, the wonderful quartet who perform Jim's piece brilliantly in this recording. Baird and I enjoy the serendipity involved in projects like this, the collision of happy and odd events, often over a loong period of time, that magically result in a wonderful work of art. But serendipity by itself is not enough. A "special sauce" is needed to bring it all together. From my view, Baird is just that. Thank you, Baird" - J. Schlichting


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