- Elena Ruehr (b. 1963)
- Boston Modern Orchestra Project
- Gil Rose, conductor
The title of the Boston Modern Orchestra Project's superb disc of music by Elena Ruehr is 'O'Keeffe Images', which refers to her triptych of works inspired by paintings of Georgia O'Keeffe. They are wondrous pieces, abounding in sonorous awe, grandeur and imagination, as befits the images that stimulated the American composer. A similar sense of urgent brilliance pervades the three Ruehr works preceding the O'Keeffe collection.
Elena Ruehr studied with Persichetti at Julliard and Bolcom at the University of Michigan. These are all her works for orchestra.
Shimmer (1995), for strings, moves in harmonically static blocks of diatonic counterpoint. It is a glowing (shimmering) dance with grace and a folk-like feel, elegant and Coplandesque, with a dash for minimalism for flavor.
When Elena Ruehr (b. 1963) received her musical education (University of Michigan and The Juilliard School) in the late 1980s, melody wasn’t even considered as a part of modern music theory classes. Fortunately, one of her teachers—George Balch Wilson—recognized her gift for it. Now she sees melody as “the most complex and human of musical experiences.” Raised in a family of amateur musicians (her mother sang folk music and early jazz standards), she learned the piano at age five. Her passion as a dancer infuses her music with a distinctive rhythmic pulse.
The four orchestral works of composer Elena Ruehr that are assembled on this alluring disc by the Boston Modern Orchestra Project are striking for their combination of rhapsodic, almost sinful lushness and a robust force that keeps the effect from cloying. Her signature orchestrational move is to pull you in with the strings and then let the brass punch you in the gut, and it works every time — even when you know it’s coming. Even the overall course of the disc works that way.
This is one of two recordings from the Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP) of which I received an mp3 preview. I regret that the other was well removed from my comfort zone.
I’m not aware that I have encountered the music of Elena Ruehr before, though there are two recordings of her music on Avie, one of which, also recently released, with the generic title Lift, contains chamber music (AV2319). The earlier CD, of music for soprano, baritone, chorus and orchestra was well received, though we seem to have missed it here at MusicWeb International (AV2263).
Boston Modern Orchestra Project