This release is the fourth such collaboration between Kenneth Fuchs and JoAnn Falletta — and it’s of the same high quality as the other three (see my review of Atlantic Riband). This time around, Falletta and the London Symphony Orchestra present three Fuchs works for baritone and chamber orchestra.
Roderick Williams is the baritone soloist, and he has a warm, rich voice that is supple and expressive. And that’s a good thing, because each of these works has it’s own character and mood.
Falling Man is inspired by Don DeLillo’s novel about 9/11. At times, the work is unsettled and chaotic, echoing the emotions of the original event. Fuchs sets some of the text in an atonal declamatory style that detaches the narrator from the action. But that detachment doesn’t last. There are hints of jazz in this work, as well as a quiet, contemplative section towards the end that draws in the listener.
Kenneth Fuchs is a great admirer of John Updike, and his work Movie House sets seven of Updike’s poems to music. To me, this set had a very American sound, almost as if Fuchs had used Copland as a starting point. That’s not to say Movie House is derivative — far from it. Fuchs is inspired by his material and his music responds to Updike’s imagery, providing emotional context for the words.
William Blake’s poems, which are set in Songs of Innocence and of Experience are perhaps the most familiar to most listeners. And yet Fuchs gives them a fresh interpretation. The settings are quite beautiful, each song a charming miniature to be enjoyed.
If you’ve enjoyed this series to date, you’ll not be disappointed with Falling Man.
Kenneth Fuchs: Falling Man; Movie House; Songs of Innocence and of Experience
London Symphony Orchestra; JoAnn Falletta, conductor
Roderick Williams, baritone