Concerto for Euphonium and Orchestra (1987). Symphony No. 1
Jiri Vydra, euphonium; Kimball Wheeler, mezzo-soprano; Moravian Philharmonic Orch/Vit Micka, cond.
MMC RECORDINGS MMC 2113 (F) (DDD) TT: 52:09
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Mostly harmless. David Gaines studied composition at Peabody. For those who think it matters, he writes tonally. He claims influences from a number of very individual composers, including Hovhaness, Harrison, Hindemith, Górecki, Copland, and Stravinsky. I once found myself in a momentarily trendy restaurant. On the menu were three dishes, two of which varied another. It was essentially a baked crab casserole. The first variation added andouille, and the second added cheese on top of that. By the time you got to the last variation, the dish didn't taste like much of anything. The flavors of the various ingredients canceled each other out. I would say the same of Gaines's music. The euphonium concerto is well-written (Gaines himself studied euphonium and bass trombone), but there's nothing that really compels you to listen. One longs for a cheap moment.
This also holds for the symphony. Gaines is hipped on the language Esperanto. My teen-age nephew Jack was once hipped on the language Klingon. To each his own. Esperanto, however, carries with it a measure of idealism. Esperanto speakers are usually as single-minded as an infestation of termites. They believe that if everybody speaks this synthetic language (which is built from several languages), there will be less chance of miscommunication and people around the globe will have more in common with each other. History, however, rather inconveniently tends to counter these hopes. The main problems with Esperanto are:
By now you've probably figured out that discussing Esperanto is more interesting than listening to the symphony. The performances are as good as they have to be, as is the sound.
S.G.S. (April 2003)