Plumeri Conducts Plumeri: Windflower - Pride of Baltimore. Johnterryl Plumeri conducting the Moscow Philharmonic, with Sara Watkins oboe. GMMC 731-2 DDD; 38:34 (Distributed by Bayside)
A new label and a new composer, both making auspicious debuts.
Although no biographical data is provided in the booklet, one can assume Plumeri is a relatively young man who has much in common with other American post-modernists. While showing a fully professional awareness of twentieth-century harmonic and instrumental procedures, he is content-perhaps because of his Italianate heritage?-to fall back on the tried and true precepts of the late-nineteenth-century masters, because his primary aim is to please the ear and to communicate with the soul of the listener.
This music is conceived with a sumptuously sensuous neo-romantic afflatus that calls to mind the similarly effortless lyricism of the American-born Canadian, Michael Conway Baker (b. 1937), (examples on CBC and Summit), or the "Victory At Sea" spirit of the Roylance/Gavin music for "The Battle of the Atlantic" on Conifer.
WINDFLOWER is a meditative thirteen-minute tone poem for oboe and orchestra which is modeled on pieces like Vaughan William's "The Lark Ascending", and is fraught with a comparable kind of pantheistic mysticism. But this is most definitely not "New Age" music-soothing though formless and emotionally undemanding. Plumeri has an inborn dramatic sense of shape and pacing, as his twenty-five minute narrative PRIDE OF BALTIMORE demonstrates. This work, inspired by the saga of a century-old refurbished clipper which was tragically lost at sea in 1986, could superficially serve as a soundtrack of a documentary film, but is actually a long way from being just a fragmentary background score. It shows sustained formal growth, diversification, and integration, and it operates on a much broader canvas, musically as well as philosophically.
These well-prepared, composer-conducted performances and recordings are both technically and esthetically stunning. Let us hope more Plumeri is in the recording pipeline.
Paul A. Snook
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