Scriabin, Complete Symphonies / Le Poeme de l'extase, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, V. Ashkenazy (Decca, 2003)
Rouse, who has a long association with Baltimore and now lives there, was on hand to hear this performance of his tone poem Rapture, one of his "most unabashedly tonal" works. A slow-burning crescendo, of tempo and orchestration as well as dynamics, and mostly in triple meter, it recalls Ravel's La Valse and Bolero in profile, a gorgeous slow opening tinted by a bloom of Wagnerian brass, the addition of a percussion-heavy pulse, and pastoral woodwind solos, including striking bird calls in the flutes. A particularly nice touch was the violin solos, given not to the concertmaster but to players in the back seats of the second violin section, where hidden from view, they produced an unexpected effect. Overall it remains smooth and meditative in quality until a swath of metallic percussion signals greater movement, leading to a wild rumpus of a conclusion, with sudden crescendo swells of sound, meter-unsettling syncopation, and thunderous percussion. Following on the works of Rouse's Death Cycle in the 1990s, this piece, premiered in 2000, "inhabits a world devoid of darkness," as Rouse put it in his program note.
Tim Smith, A feast of sonic showpieces brings out the best in Marin Alsop, Baltimore Symphony (Baltimore Sun, October 24)
This program repeats on Sunday afternoon (October 26, 3 pm) at Strathmore.