Chicago composer Doug Lofstrom has coupled first recordings of two modestly appealing orchestral concertinos for oboe and harp with an archival reprise of his Plumed Serpent
studio fantasy from 30 years ago. There isn't much in either Concertino that hasn't been heard before - Richard Strauss and Hollywood musicals come to mind, though more svelte, brought up to date and internationalized - but they are both beautifully written for the soloists and exquisitely played.
The reissue of The Plumed Serpent
revisits an exuberant outpouring of youthful lyricism and cool jazz, circa the early Reagan years. The language is sophisticated, the structure almost invisible but leading inevitably to solo riffs by soprano saxophonist Rich Corplongo, drummer Rick Shandling, pianist Pete Sliwka and flugelhorn player Jim Teister. Serpent was recorded by some of Chicago's finest in 1982 as a four-movement 'jazz concerto' for quintet and 'studio orchestra' (eight strings). The piece is based on the folklore and history of Mexico and Native America, using the mythical 'Plumed Serpent' Quetzalcoatl as a focal point, which explains the flashes of Latin colour.
The vivid, occasionally strident sound of The Plumed Serpent
fits tastes of 30 years ago when digital was new and raw, an essential part of the overall mix and exuberant fun. This means a very wide dynamic range - so sit near the volume control. The sound of the concertinos is excellent.