The ridiculously gifted Tim Fain was in residence here last week. Classes, lessons and coachings, culminating in a performance of Richard Danielpour’s Violin Concerto with our orchestra.
Richard and I were classmates a quarter century ago. His music wasn’t to my taste then, but there was no denying his ambition and talent. Over the intervening years, I’ve heard a few of his pieces. Some of them I found less than interesting, but others have been quite wonderful. This concerto, which is ten years old, definitely leans more to the latter.

One of the things that struck me as I was listening was the perfectly calibrated orchestration. This was a kind of orchestral mastery – not in any use of ingenious combinations or special tricks, but just the result of writing for orchestra often, hearing the results under optimal conditions, and shaping a clearly recognizable, personal voice despite the use of massive forces. He knew what he wanted and knew how to get it, and that’s more unusual than one would think.

Orchestration aside, Richard has always had a gift for expressive clarity. There’s no mistaking what he wants to say. That’s not so common as one would like – I’ve heard many pieces that try to say too much, or that undercut themselves with cross-purposes.

Not a problem for Danielpour. And that’s what I admire most about his work.

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