Tone Poem Tuesday

It’s always worth remembering that classical music isn’t just about dusty old works by composers long dead. British composer Eric Whitacre is still very much alive, and he is actually only a little less than two years older than me. I don’t know a whole lot about him, actually. The work featured here is, to my knowledge, the only work of his that I have heard, but it’s a beautiful piece indeed, for solo cello and strings. Called The River Cam, the work was composed in honor of cellist Julian Lloyd Webber’s sixtieth birthday (and he is actually the featured soloist in this recording), and it is inspired by the titular River Cam in England, which flows through Cambridge. The work is meditative and dreamy in the tradition of Ralph Vaughan Williams, putting me a bit in mind of The Lark Ascending. The music rises and falls and churns, conveying the energy of a river without resorting to brisk tempi or harsh discord. There’s a lot going on here as one listens, with the melodic lines going in different directions and at times creating dissonances that are nevertheless very beautiful to behold.

One thing is certain: I’ll be attending more on the music of Eric Whitacre.

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