Ineffable Tales (digital download)
John Alan Rose
Composer/Performer John Alan Rose presents INEFFABLE TALES, an album of four of his ensemble compositions, recorded at Reduta Hall in Olomouc, Czech Republic. In addition to renowned soloists Jungwon Choi (cello), Moni Simeonov (violin), the recording features the composer’s wife Sing Rose (soprano), and the composer himself (piano). The album also features the Moravian Philharmonic, under the direction of Miran Vaupotić.
Rose stuns from the outset with his imaginative piano concerto “Tolkien Tale,” a programmatic fantasy with clear Eastern European folk elements. In the first movement “Setting out on a great adventure,” the listener, perhaps on a journey with famed hobbit Bilbo Baggins, is introduced to playful syncopations and pentatonic explorations -- perhaps in homage to folk explorations of Bartok, Brahms, Dvorak, and Prokofiev. The Earth and all its elements can be heard in Rose’s masterful orchestration, highlighting impressive writing for chimes and percussion. The warm “Lullaby,” the second movement, is a short interlude, a breathtaking look at tandem possibilities for keyboard instruments and woodwinds. Concluding the work is “March,” a continuation of the fanciful literary journey with musically atmospheric projections of things encountered along the way. The work is solid, accessible, and most of all memorable -- one that could work itself into standard orchestral repertoire for years to come.
Next is “Old Father Time” for cello and orchestra, a nostalgic, yet timeless work demonstrating the composer’s mastery of the neo-Romantic style and the complexities of storytelling through music. Maestro Vaupotić has created such a purity in timbre and sonority that the listener will be astonished at how clearly critical every part is in creating a whole. As concertist Jungwon Choi (cello) humbly shares the stage as part of the orchestra.
The two-minute violin introduction to “25,000 Years of Peace” is modern, seemingly improvisational and likewise experimental. The violinist somehow replicates the hollow breaths heard in folk woodwinds. It is meditative and almost religious. Direction is unclear. But then the grand orchestra enters and the listener is transported to the Western frontier in an Ives-like montage of New World folk tune, Native American chant, and Shaker hymnsong. The modern aesthetic is so seamlessly woven into the fabric, one wonders, at times, if Fleck and Wooten have entered the picturesque scene.
LIsteners will enjoy “Ticket to the Theater” featuring soprano, Sing Rose and the dark comedic narration of actor Tyler Bunch (Sesame Street). John Alan Rose explains, “my goal was to contribute a new piece to the vocal/orchestral repertoire suggesting a grand operatic performance, but requiring only one performer, one narrator and no set. It is supposed to seem off-the-cuff, and since "invented" by a musician onstage, resorts to the barest of bones of a plot, without an identifiable lead character!”
This album is brilliant in every way and is the work of a very thoughtful composer. INEFFABLE TALES makes the future of the orchestral canon quite bright. Quite bright indeed!