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Howard Shore (b.1946) A Palace Upon the Ruins (A Song Cycle) / Lang Lang, piano; Jennifer Johnson Cano, mezzo; Kronos Quartet; Essential Voices USA Youth Workshop; RTÉ Concert Orchestra

Album Summary

>Shore, Howard [Composer] : A Palace Upon the Ruins, for mezzo-soprano, flute, cello, harp, percussion & piano
>Shore, Howard [Composer] : Peace, for chorus & organ
>Shore, Howard [Composer] : The Garden, for chorus
>Shore, Howard [Composer] : Pieces (6), for ensemble
>Shore, Howard [Composer] : Catania, for piano
Performers Conductors Ensembles Composer
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Notes & Reviews:

Academy, GRAMMY, and Golden Globe winning composer Howard Shore is best known for his rich and densely orchestrated scores for Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings films. This disc features a more intimate - and classical - side of Shore's music. The title work, A Palace Upon The Ruins, is a song-cycle, sung here by mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnson Cano. The texts were inspired by a story from the past that speaks of the healing of an unresolved trauma. Other works on the program include Six Pieces for chamber orchestra (featuring the Kronos Quartet) and Catania, a work for solo piano played by the superstar pianist Lang Lang.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Giandomenico Studios, Camden NJ (02/07/2009); KKL Luzern, Switzerland (02/07/2009); RTÉ Radio Centre, Dublin (02/07/2009); Studio Trilogy, San Francisco (02/07/2009); Teldex Studios, Berlin (02/07/2009); Washington National Cathedral (02/07/2009); Giandomenico Studios, Camden NJ (04/20/2014); KKL Luzern, Switzerland (04/20/2014); RTÉ Radio Centre, Dublin (04/20/2014); Studio Trilogy, San Francisco (04/20/2014); Teldex Studios, Berlin (04/20/2014); Washington National Cathedral (04/20/2014).

The presence of such superstars as Lang Lang and the Kronos Quartet on this album may seem surprising until you consider that Howard Shore has penned scores for the highly successful Lord of the Rings films, as well as a host of other films (his association with director David Cronenberg has been a long one) and even an opera based on the film The Fly. He has the clout to call on major guest stars, and in fact, in this program of concert pieces he makes use of their talents. Shore's musical language here certainly bears the marks of his cinematic background, but the effect is different from that of film music because the pieces are shaped by a text (or in the case of the "Six Pieces," by an abstract form) rather than by onscreen action. His style is neo-Romantic, inflected in the direction of minimalism, with a characteristic way of stopping on a single chord to explore its sonorities rather than proceeding according to its harmonic implications. You can hear it deployed simply and distinctively in "Catania," written for a wedding in that locale, performed by Lang Lang, and entirely appropriate for future wedding ceremonies. Other highlights are the two choral works, one sung by a non-professional youth choir and the other by a more polished group, but each displaying a real knack for text-setting. "Peace," which sets texts by Eleanor Roosevelt, has an anthemic quality with a punch. The titular work is a song cycle evoking six different weather conditions; despite its thematic unity, it was assembled in steps, and it's not clear how the text, by Shore's wife, and written mostly for an American commission, happens to have been written in German. It is beautifully sung by mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnson Cano and accompanied by a small chamber ensemble. Concert music by top film composers is a small but fascinating field, and this entry is welcomed. ~ James Manheim



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Works Details

>Shore, Howard [Composer] : A Palace Upon the Ruins, for mezzo-soprano, flute, cello, harp, percussion & piano
  • Performers: Jennifer Cano; Clive Greensmith (Cello); Bridget Kibbey (Harp); Marya Martin (Flute); Ian Rosenbaum (Percussion); Gilles Vonsattel (Piano)
  • Conductor: Ludwig Wicki
  • Ensemble: Essential Voices USA Youth Workshop
  • Running Time: 18 min. 2 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern

>Shore, Howard [Composer] : Peace, for chorus & organ
  • Performer: Benjamin Hutto (Organ)
  • Conductor: Judith Clurman
  • Ensemble: RTÉ Concert Orchestra
  • Running Time: 3 min. 50 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern

>Shore, Howard [Composer] : The Garden, for chorus
  • Ensemble: Kronos Quartet
  • Running Time: 4 min. 17 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Studio/Live: Live

>Shore, Howard [Composer] : Pieces (6), for ensemble
  • Conductor: Howard Shore
  • Running Time: 19 min. 3 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern

>Shore, Howard [Composer] : Catania, for piano
  • Performer: Lang Lang (Piano)
  • Running Time: 2 min. 50 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 2007