To make an impact, always lead with your best material. In the case of a recording series, that can imply that the second (and subsequent) volumes are diminishing returns. Not so with the music of Steve Elcock.
Elcock is something of an outsider artist. He’s a self-taught composer who wrote for his own satisfaction. His first volume of orchestral music was a stunner.
Elcock has a strong musical personality, and his works show great originality. Plus, they have an internal logic that guides the listener through the music.
This volume features three works inspired by three other works. “Incubus” is a tone poem depicting night terrors. It was developed from his string quartet “Night After Night. Elcock’s orchestrations effectively ramp up the tension that only resolves at the very end.
“Havan, Fantasia on a Theme by J. S. Bach,” is a fascinating work. Elcock reinterprets a theme from Bach’s First Partita for solo violin. He does far more than provide orchestral accompaniment. He deconstructs the theme, reworking and reharmonizing it until it becomes something new.
Elcock’s Fifth Symphony uses Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony as a structural framework. And while both have a repeated note motif, there’s no danger of confusing the two. Elcock’s personality is too strong. His use of the orchestra (particularly percussion) makes this a very modern-sounding work. His harmonies are also more exotic.
In short, it doesn’t matter what the origin of this work is. Elcock’s Fifth Symphony is an exciting and substantial composition. It stands on its own merits.
The Siberian Symphony Orchestra turns in some top-flight performances. The ensemble sound has a slight edge to it, but the soloists deliver time after time.
Steve Elcock: Orchestral Music, Volume Two
Siberian Symphony Orchestra; Dmitry Vasiliev, conductor
Toccata Classics TOCC 0445