Justin Dello Joio: Oceans Apart

I consider this an important release. Justin Dello Joio’s “Oceans Apart” was commissioned by the Boston Symphony. Garrick Ohlsson was the intended soloist for this piano concerto. And in January 2023 the work was performed.  Alan Gilbert led the Boston Symphony Orchestra, with Garrick Ohlsson, piano soloist. 

This is a recording of that performance, hence its importance. It is performed by the commissioning artists, with input from the composer. And it’s a tremendous composition.

Dello Joio writes that the work was inspired by divisions: political divisions and cultural divisions. The concerto effectively evokes those concepts. Themes break off unresolved. Various groups of instruments seem to compete for attention. And even the foundation of the music seems unsettled. 

Dello Joio writes in what I call a post-tonal style. That is, the overall language is tonal. However, the nature of the harmonies and their resolution aren’t traditional. Yet they make sense.

Ohlsson is in top form in this recording, as is the BSO. I hope more orchestras program this work. It deserves a wider audience. 

Also included in this release are two Dello Joio chamber works. The Due Per Due for cello and piano is a tour de force for the performers. In this case, Carter Brey, cello, and Christopher O’Riley, piano.

Blue and Gold Music was composed for the tricentenary of Trinity School. This work for brass quintet and organ sparkles with originality. There’s little heralding fanfare here. Just solid writing that utilizes the characteristics of the instruments involved. 

Justin Dello Joio: Oceans Apart
Concerto for Piano and Orchestra
Garrick Ohlsson, piano
Boston Symphony Orchestra; Alan Gilbert, conductor
Carter Brey, cello; Christopher O’Riley, piano
American Brass Quintet
Bridge Records Bridge 9583

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