“Percussion concertos are more common than they used to be, but HK Gruber, whose background includes both avant-garde ensembles and mainstream orchestral playing, may be the only composer to have written more than one. Both of the works here are dense but quite entertaining. They were written some years apart; Rough Music dates from 1982-1983, while into the open..., had its premiere in 2015, in the BBC Proms performance recorded here. Rough Music is perhaps the easier introduction to Gruber's idiom, which includes a lot of percussion, even in other works. It is not really a three-movement concerto in the conventional sense but is a set of three shorter pieces in which the mood careens around like a silent film soundtrack. In into the open..., the orchestra and the percussionist are slowly woven together in a big arch. The percussionist is Colin Currie, who has issued several albums on his own label and seems intent on building a tradition of percussion recordings like nothing seen since the heyday of Evelyn Glennie (who is still around and shortly before the 2021 release of this album issued her own album of percussion concertos). Special notice is due to the BBC engineers and to the BBC Philharmonic conductors, Juanjo Mena and John Storgårds, who kept complex masses of sound crystal clear. The performance of Rough Music was made in 2013, and no explanation is given for why the album took six years to appear. If it was a case of filling a release schedule depleted due to the coronavirus epidemic, then it is a bright side to that grim story.”
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