Gay Bottje has a bit of Stravinsky and Shostakovich, a bit of academia
and saucy jazz, and a lot of experience in such works as Capriccio
for Two Trumpets, Strings, and Percussion. This and other music
collected on Capstone's Sounds from the West Shore are from
the composer's later years after an exemplary educational career
(graduate of Juilliard and Eastman; studies with Gianini, Hanson,
and Boulanger, professorships at the Universities of Mississippi
and Southern Illinois).
Shore in question is that of Lake Michigan, where the composer
resides on a dune (one assumes in a house, and wonders of the Biblical
and science-fiction connections). The title work is atmospheric,
geographic, and downright meteorological. The weather shifts in
all sorts of ways from distant breezes provided by the Bulgarian
New Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Rossen Milanov. The snow in
the "Quiet Winter" second movement sounds like Mahler's
goats in the Symphony No. 7 little random jingles
that permeate the texture. The concluding "Ebullient Spring"
is filled with energetic schizoscherzic grotesqueries.
the composer and his wife are flutists, it seems appropriate that
Bottje has produced a fine Concerto for Two Flutes and Small
Orchestra, particularly in the second movement passages with
harp. The conclusion has a nice balance of the measured and jaunty,
including sustained chorale-like suggestions and Shostakovichian
double-eighth-quarter rhythms. By rights he should be a hornist
as well with the related command he brings to Concerto for Horn
and Small Orchestra. Befitting its brassy soloist however, this
work has a more demonstrative quality and bursts forth with a bit
of Strauss's Til Eulenspiegel near its conclusion. Ha ha.
Opener is one of those short overtures that tries its darnedest to impress
by setting off all the Bartókian bells and American whistles
of color and rhythm. It almost closes the album. OK, fine. Why not?"