The Music of Stephen Jaffe
Born in 1954, Stephen Jaffe is an important emerging American composer. This release coincides with the National Symphony Orchestra's world premiere performance in January 2004 of Jaffe's new "Cello Concerto", and brings to the catalog two major Jaffe scores from the 1990s--the thirty-five minute "Concerto for Violin and Orchestra" and the more compact 20 minute "Chamber Concerto ("Singing Figures") for Oboe and Five Instruments". Jaffe's music is truly "American" in that it reflects a pioneering spirit--a voice that resembles none of the "isms" that populate our present day musical landscape. Composed for a large orchestra, Jaffe's violin concerto begins with a simple diatonic melody which is soon transformed and developed. The language of this work ranges from the most simple and direct melodies to very dense clouds of sound in which the violin soloist is temporarily enveloped. Violinist, Gregory Fulkerson and the Odense Symphony Orchestra (Denmark) give a heroic account of this major work. As sprawling and dramatic as Jaffe's violin concerto is in language and size, his chamber concerto offers a more reduced presentation of equally beguiling materials. This light and airy composition inhabits a world that is not so far removed from an 18th century divertimento, with even its colorful instrumentation (strings, piano, harpsichord and celesta) suggesting older models. Jaffe's vivid and complex rhythmic materials, however, are anything but "ancient," and Speculum Musicae with solo oboist Stephen Taylor give this work a sparkling performance.