This disc, aptly titled Transatlantic, came about through American musicians based in Berlin who in 2020 formed a chamber orchestra to perform American works. (Calling Stravinsky an American composer is a stretch, but he wrote his Dumbarton Oaks Concerto in Washington in 1938). Craig Urquhhart, a Berlin-based composer who runs the Leonard Bernstein office, premiered his Lamentation for Flute and Piano with Christoph Eschenbach at the keyboard. Conductor Garrett Keast convinced him to rearrange the piece for flute and strings. It is gentle, melancholy, and lyrical.
Keast and Greek flautist Stathis Karapanos decided to build a program around Urquhart’s work. The two major pieces they chose are Dumbarton Oaks and Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring Suite in its original chamber-orchestra version. Both are familiar and played here with elegance and rhythmic acuity.
The remaining works featuring Karapanos are imaginative choices. Toward the Sea 2 for alto flute, harp and strings by the Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu (1930-1996) has an American connection: its three short movements are titled In the Night, Moby Dick, and Cape Cod. Takemitsu’s evocative and uniquely personal combination of post-impressionism and Japanese tradition fits beautifully into the program.
Then there is the exciting song cycle Nofim (Sights) by the American-Israeli composer Avner Dorman (b. 1975), radiantly sung by soprano Chen Reiss, who also contributes a fiercely accurate rendition of Anne Trulove’s aria No word from Tom from Stravinsky’s opera, The Rake’s Progress.
A fascinating program strongly played and recorded; Transatlantic is a triumph.
Composer: Stravinsky, Copland, Urquhart et al.
Works: Various works
Performers: Stathis Karapanos, Chen Reiss, Berlin Academy of American Music, Garrett Keast
Label: ONYX ONYX4223