The story of this recording begins with James Matheson’s Violin Concerto, which he wrote for violinist Baird Dodge and conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen as a commission from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. This album includes the Concerto’s premiere performance in Chicago on the evening of 15 December 2011, with Esa-Pekka Salonen leading the CSO with Baird Dodge as soloist.
Composer James Matheson lives in New York. But many cities, Los Angeles among them, claim him for their own. This humble, friendly and informal man, hashing out a compositional hurdle with a student on one day, is the same person on other days who wins Guggenheim and Charles Ives Living Awards and takes curtain calls from the most important stages in concert halls around the world.
The album includes the James Matheson String Quartet, described by Tim Mangan in the Orange County Register warmly: “Matheson’s String Quartet is an impressive piece of work. Thirty-two minutes long, it is brimming with ideas; the richness of their number is palpable…. The String Quartet is, perhaps first and foremost, beautifully orchestrated, the combination of instruments used to create one wondrous color after another. Motor rhythms and repeated patterns juice forward progress; these ideas move through tonal progressions, reaching plateaus of more static material (at least in the first two movements) – meditative, starry-skied, rapt. The quick finale is a syncopated romp.