Urbanicity (CD351)

Artist: 
Genre: 
  1. Urbanicity: I
  2. Urbanicity: II
  3. Urbanicity: III
  4. Guitar Concerto: I
  5. Guitar Concerto: II
  6. Guitar Concerto: III
  7. New York Variations: I
  8. New York Variations: II
  9. New York Variations: III
  10. Guitar Concerto (no guitar, orchestra only): I
  11. Guitar Concerto (no guitar, orchestra only): II
  12. Guitar Concerto (no guitar, orchestra only): III

There have been ambitious attempts in the past at marrying the audacious power of electric guitar and the throbbing rhythms of rock music with a classically-trained, through-composed sensibility. Sixties rock guitar hero Frank Zappa, leader of the irreverent Mothers of Invention, composed large scale symphonic works like 1967’s Lumpy Gravy, 1979’s Orchestral Favorites and 1983’s London Symphony Orchestra, Vol. 1, though none of those prominently featured the electric guitar. One-time No Wave guitarist and composer Rhys Chatham explored the concept of large guitar ensembles on his 1982 ballet Drastic Classicism, then later assembled 100 guitars for 1989’s An Angel Moves Too Fast To See and 400 guitars for 2005’s A Crimson Grail. His colleague Glenn Branca explored the density and dissonance of alternate tunings in large guitar ensembles on majestic works like 1980’s Lesson No. 1, 1981’s The Ascension and 1983’s Symphony No. 3 while later composing for the traditional orchestra and guitar on 1987’s Symphony No. 7. Others have tried their hand at this bridging of rock and classical worlds (Norwegian guitarist Terje Rypdal achieved a successful blend on his Double Concerto/5th Symphony with the Riga Festival Orchestra of Latvia and his Undisonus with London’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra). But none (save Zappa) has possessed the classical pedigree and compositional integrity to pull off this melding as honestly and organically as Grammy-nominated American composer David Chesky does on his Concerto for Electric Guitar and Orchestra. "My feeling is, we live in a contemporary age and we need to treat the electric guitar just like a violin," says Chesky. "It’s part of our vocabulary today. And for the orchestra world to survive, it needs to be contemporary and reflect the world around it."

Reviews

Is David Chesky the Frank Zappa for the 21st Century?