Uri Caine: The Passion of Octavius Catto (816 Music)

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Uri Caine - The Passion Of Octavius Catto – Jazz Music Review ...Around the turn of the century, an Argentine-Israeli composer living in Massachusetts was suddenly all the rage. Osvaldo Golijov was a maker of fusions, welding symphonic, jazz and folk music  into orchestral scores, often with a choral component. Such was his success, that he was showered with commissions by Big Five US orchestras and film deals from Hollywood. It all got a bit much for Golijov, who missed one deadline after another before eventually pronouncing himself blocked. Nothing has been heard from him for a decade and eclecticism has gone totally out of fashion.

So I was quite thrilled to discover this concert work by the thoughtful Philadelphia pianist and composer Uri Caine. It’s a meditation on the murder of Octavius Catto, an Afro-American schoolteacher who was shot dead in a Philly election scuffle between Democrat-voting Irish immigrants and Lincoln-loyal blacks. Catto’s killer, Frank Kelly, was never charged. The injustice still rankles.

The Passion is a concert oratorio of a kind that went out of fashion with Hiawatha (or maybe Berio), but it is convincingly performed by the Catto Freedom Orchestra and the Philadelphia Choral Ensemble, conducted with fine rhythmic verve by André Raphel. Caine, who is at heart a jazzman, has written some effective blues and hymn scenes and two furiously engaging orchestral passages for the mob episodes. The dramatic half-hour passes very swiftly. Why would the Philadelphia not grab this score with open arms? Yannick, are you reading me? This is your comeback piece.

NL

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This page is also available in / Cette page est également disponible en: frFrancais (French)

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About Author

Norman Lebrecht is a prolific writer on music and cultural affairs. His blog, Slipped Disc, is one of the most popular sites for cultural news. He presents The Lebrecht Interview on BBC Radio 3 and is a contributor to several publications, including the Wall Street Journal and The Standpoint. Visit every Friday for his weekly CD review // Norman Lebrecht est un rédacteur prolifique couvrant les événements musicaux et Slipped Disc, est un des plus populaires sites de nouvelles culturelles. Il anime The Lebrecht Interview sur la BBC Radio 3 et collabore à plusieurs publications, dont The Wall Street Journal et The Standpoint. Vous pouvez lire ses critiques de disques chaque vendredi.

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