American Classics: Lou Harrison

Naxos American Classics: Lou Harrison Violin Concerto, Grand Duo and Double Music. Tim Fain, Violin; Michael Boriskin, Piano; PostClassical Ensemble, Angel Gil-Ordonez

PostClassical Ensemble’s new release:

American Classics – Lou Harrison

Click below to hear Tim Fain and PostClassical Ensemble led by Angel Gil-Ordóñez

Critical Reviews of PostClassical Ensemble’s New Lou Harrison Recording

“Lou Harrison had a pioneer’s imagination, not least regarding what might be walloped in the name of music—his Violin Concerto calls for flowerpots, plumber’s pipes and clock coils in the percussion. What’s more striking in this performance by Tim Fain, the PostClassical Ensemble and conductor Angel Gil-Ordóñez is the brilliance of his writing for violin, a collision between itchy dance rhythms and soaring lyricism. …a very enjoyable disc.” –Eirca Jeal, The Guardian


Three intriguingly special works, extremely well served by the performers. The recording is altogether first class and one superb homage to Lou Harrison for his 100th birthday.” –Remy Franck, Pizzicato


“Using a near-insane combination of rummaged ‘instruments,’ including bells, brake drums, sistra, gongs, tam-tams, and thunder sheet, Double Music begins with a barely audible drone before breaking into a virtual rainbow of colors. Who knows what’s responsible for what sounds, but the clanging and gongs are not only sometimes hilarious, but also make for a perfect system test-track. This relatively short, joy-filled cacophony has the last laugh as it fades out at the end.

Harrison wrote the first two movements of Concerto for Violin and Percussion in 1940, and revised them when he created the final movement in 1959. Astoundingly modern, it combines a wild battery of percussion with extremely challenging writing for the violin.

Amidst its unbounded inventiveness and jollities, Grand Duo also reflects the gravity with which Harrison viewed the world. A proponent of boundary-less societies, he condemned war and violence, and promoted Esperanto as a universal language.” –Jason Victor Serinus, Stereophile


“This splendid CD contains two masterworks by Lou Harrison.

Throughout much of the 20-minute concerto [Concerto for Violin and Percussion], Tim Fain has to play in the violin’s upper register; he does so, brilliantly.

The five-movement, Indonesian-influenced Grand Duo for violin and piano (1988) lasts 35 minutes. New to me, I found every minute enthralling. A great piece!

Double Music (1941), for which Harrison and Cage each independently wrote the music for two of the four players, is a long-standing percussion staple. Gil-Ordóñez’s meditative seven-minute interpretation takes over a minute longer than my swinging, Cage-conducted LP version. Different, but effective.

Heartily recommended!” –Michael Schulman, The WholeNote


“All of this music has been recorded before successfully, but this particular compilation works very well as a unified program, while the performances are second to none. Harrison’s Violin Concerto (really Concerto for Violin and Percussion) is a major masterpiece. Harmonically inspired by Berg, in that the violin line is what you might call “atonal-lyrical,” the opposition of a single solo cantabile instrument against the mass of unpitched percussion creates a distinctive expressive contrast unique in the instrumental literature. The mood is neither Asian nor Western avant-garde, but somehow a world unto itself, and utterly compelling.”            –David Hurwitz,



“The performances are irreproachable–the best introduction to Harrison ever recorded.” –David Cortés Santamarta, Ritmo


“Simply magnificent.” –Luis Suñén, Scherzo