Insight With Beth Ruyak

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Classical Sound Advice With Cale Wiggins, New Recording Of The Last Concert Work Of James Horner


From Pas de Deux by Mari Samuelsen (v) and Hakon Samuelse (c)

  1. Pas de Deux, part 1 by James Horner
  2. Pas de Deux, part 2 by James Horner
  3. Violoncelles, Vibrez! by Giovanni Sollima

James Horner, Academy Award winning composer, died late last month when the two-seat plane he was flying went down in a field in Los Padres National Forest. 

The composer had just recently returned to writing music for the concert hall after a 30-year hiatus spent working in movies. In an uncanny quirk of timing, the premier recording of his first new concert work since the 1980’s was released less than a month before his death. The work, Pas de Deux, was commissioned by the brother and sister (cello and violin, respectively) Mari and Hakon Samuelsen for their debut recording on Mercury Classics.  As the title suggests, Horner had the ballet in mind when creating the concerto, which eschews traditional structure.  The composer described it as more of a “duet for violin and cello with orchestral accompaniment.” 

Mari and Hakon Samuelsen perform with conductor Vasily Petrenko and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, who also accompanied the pair in the works concert debut in November 2014. The audience loved the piece—many gave a standing ovation—but critical reviews were mixed. In the long run, concert goers will have a greater influence on whether or not the work will be programmed again, which seems likely.

The recording also features works by Arvo Part (Fratres), Ludovico Einaudi (Divenire) and composer Giovanni Sollima’s Violoncelles, Vibrez! Or, in English, Cellos, Vibrate!  Sollima is a cellist by training, and this work is an exploration of the sonic expressive capabilities of the instrument.  It’s a great showcase for Hakon Samuelsen and cellist Alisa Weilerstein, who joins him on this track woth Clark Rundell conducting the RLP.

 sound advice

Cale Wiggins

Classical Content Coordinator and Host

Cale started his career as an on-air personality in 1997. He discovered his love of classical music through listening to NPR as a child and has been exploring the genre ever since.   Read Full Bio 

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