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*** "THE FIVE SACRED TREES." Music by John Williams and others. London Symphony Orchestra, John Williams, conductor. (Sony Classical)

May 11, 1997|Daniel Cariaga

Two years ago, on a commission from the New York Philharmonic, John Williams wrote a half-hour, five-movement bassoon concerto, a neo-Impressionistic work inspired by nature--the heady liner notes by Jamake Highwater give the details--tightly paced and in an eclectic panorama of contemporary styles. It is a beauty on the surface and its deeper qualities become more evident with repeated listening. A fluent, touching performance by the London Symphony Orchestra, conductor Williams and soloist Judith LeClair does it justice. Williams also surrounds himself with like-minded--i.e., spirit-obsessed--writers of our century. Alan Hovhaness' chordal-modal "Mysterious Mountain" Symphony (1955) exerts many charms, as do also Toru Takemitsu's haunting "Tree Line" (1988) and Tobias Picker's atmospheric "Old and Lost Rivers" (1986).

*

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good), four stars (excellent).

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