Danny Elfman and Adolphus Hailstork – an Ideal Pairing

There are still people who insist modern music is ugly, dissonant, and not worth listening to. I keep a shortlist of albums for these mossbacks. These recordings show that contemporary classical music is tuneful, vibrant, and engaging. I’ll be adding this release of concertos by Danny Elfman and Adolphus Hailstork to the list.

Danny Elfman’s Violin Concerto “Eleven Eleven” is a substantial four-movement work. Stylistically, it’s close to his film scores, especially “Batman” and “Nightmare Before Christmas.” But the solo violin part is something else. It’s a maniacal tour-de-force that seldom slackens its pace.

Elfman wrote the concerto for Sandy Cameron, who plays it here. It’s a phenomenal performance. The violin is amplified, which gives the sound a slightly metallic quality. But the amplification never takes over. Rather, it gives the solo instrument an edge that makes it stand out from the orchestra.

Adolphus Hailstork has a long and productive relationship with JoAnne Falletta. Hailstork is on the faculty of Norfolk State University. Faletta is the director of the Norfolk-based Virginia Symphony. Under her direction, the orchestra recorded an album of his music for Naxos.

Here Falletta and her other ensemble — the Buffalo Philharmonic orchestra — perform Hailstork’s Piano Concerto No. 1. Leon Bates gave the premiere of the work in 1992. Stewart Goodyear is the soloist for this recording. His playing is self-assured and nuanced.

The Buffalo Symphony Orchestra, directed by JoAnne Falletta, turn in some super performances. That is to say, performances are on par with their other recordings from Naxos.

Danny Elfman: Violin Concerto “Eleven Eleven”
Adolphus Hailstork: Piano Concerto No. 1
Sandy Cameron, violin; Steward Goodyear, piano
Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra; JoAnne Falletta, conductor
Naxos 8559925

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