||KEVIN PUTS - Symphony No. 4 'From Mission San Juan' - If I Were a Swan - To Touch the Sky -
Marin Alsop (Conductor) - Baltimore Symphony Orchestra - Conspirare - Released: September 2013 - Harmonia Mundi 907580|
If American composer Kevin Puts is any indication, we can rest assured that "classical" music has a bright future ahead. If he and other composers
like him can write symphonic music of this caliber well into the 21st century, then music will never die and interest in it might even grow. I've not had the chance to
hear other works by Kevin Puts, but based on his Symphony No. 4 'From Mission San Juan', my Pavlovian reaction would be to compare
him to Aaron Copland. One can hear traces, or echoes, of Fanfare for the Common Man and Appalachian Spring within the pages of this symphony.
It's a work inspired by the Mission of San Juan where its founding friars, amongst other duties, tried to teach Mutsun Indians how to sing church music. But despite their efforts,
it seems the natives hung on to their own music, which resulted in an early American culture clash. The sombre first movement depicts the religious spirit of the mission, but the
mood shifts quickly when the second movement showcases the highly spirited music of the Mutsuns. This is where Kevin Puts displays a true talent at juxtaposing many differing
elements, from the joyful tunes of the down-to-earth natives to the rigidly pious chants of the missionaries, and by merging them together creates a truly colorful sonic canvas.
Conflicts arise in the third movement and thunderous clashes of orchestral forces dominate the scene, but with broad and sweeping melodies the final movement comes to an
effective, dramatic and uplifting coda which serves to emphasize the spirit and energy behind the whole work.