violinist-anne-akiko-meyers-to-release-new-album-the-american-masters-featuring-works-by-barber-corigliano-and-mason-batesThe American Masters – CD of The Week – John von Rhein

The American Masters. Barber: Violin Concerto; Bates: Violin Concerto; Corigliano: “Lullaby for Natalie.” Anne Akiko Meyers, violin; London Symphony Orchestra, Leonard Slatkin, conductor (Entertainment One).

As composer John Corigliano writes in his liner note, these three American violin works have a common bond of mentorship. Samuel Barber was Corigliano’s mentor, and Bates took lessons with Corigliano during Bates’ student years at Juilliard. The superb American violinist Anne Akiko Meyers has championed the music of all three and co-commissioned the Bates concerto, whose local premiere she and Leonard Slatkin gave with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in April.

Bates’ half-hour concerto struck me as a winner then and impressed me all the more in its first recording. The score shifts between frenetic rhythmic activity and soaring lyricism, its imaginative sound-picture evoking Bates’ techno trademarks through purely acoustical means. It’s an exhilarating piece other virtuoso fiddlers will want to take up, although none are likely to make it sizzle more than Meyers.

She performs Barber’s lushly neo-romantic concerto and Corigliano’s tender little cradle piece (written to herald the birth of her daughter) with comparable panache, and receives admirable support from the conductor, orchestra
and engineers. Highly recommended.