by Walter Simmons
HOLDRIDGE: Concerto No. 2 for Violin and Orchestra. Lazarus and his Beloved: Symphonic Suite. Scenes of Summer. Ballet Fantasy. Andante. Grand Waltz. ALBINONI-HOLDRIDGE: Adagio. Lee Holdridge conducting the London Symphony Orchestra and the Los Angeles String Orchestra; Glenn Dicterow, violin. CITADEL CTD-88104 [ADD/DDD]; 77:35. Produced by Tom Null.
Lee Holdridge was born in Haiti and grew up in Costa Rica, before coming to the United States to study music at age 18. Now 51, he has been for many years a successful composer of scores for film (Splash, Mr. Mom, et al.) and television. This CD reissues some of Holdridge’s “classical” pieces composed and originally recorded during the 1970s.
The music is so similar in concept and effect overall that few comments about individual pieces are necessary in order to convey an impression of the disc as a whole. What is “classical” about this music is that it is autonomous rather than accompanimental in conception and devoid of overt vernacular stylistic or instrumental usages. However, it is not “classical” to the extent that the term implies structural or developmental complexity of any kind. Rather, this is purely melodic music, with little that couldn’t be reduced to a tune
played by the right hand with arpeggiated accompaniment in the left. However, it is all presented in sumptuous orchestral dress, with no detail omitted that might enhance the opulence of effect. The result, is — from a stylistic standpoint — film music without the film. Mind you, this description is not intended to be critical or negative, unless Holdridge has more exalted pretensions. I can assure you that many people — people who enjoy the “sound” of Hollywood film music — will love this disc from beginning to end, and I myself would certainly rather hear it playing in the background than any one of several thousand Baroque concertos. But because of its two-dimensional construction, the music can be entirely grasped in a single hearing or two. There is no psychological depth or true musical activity, no deeper levels to plumb — so far as I can tell — so that, as is inevitable with music of this kind, interest can pall very quickly.
The most elaborate and ambitious work is the ful1-length Violin Concerto No. 2, written in 1978 for Glenn Dicterow, who performs it splendidly on this recording. The first movement, which has a terrifically compelling opening, contains the disc’s only moments of emotional drama. Interest falls off a bit during the second and third movements. But on the whole, I can safely that listeners who appreciate the Korngold concerto are likely to enjoy this one just as much.
Also worthy of comment is the 15-minute symphonic suite from Holdridge’s 1974 religious opera, Lazarus and his Beloved. This is super-romantic, ultra-lush, post-Puccinian piety pushed to the max. The reservations noted above apply, but many will find this delicious fun anyway.
The rest of the music is in the same vein, though a little less ambitious. The arrangement of the Albinoni Adagio is deliberately Stokowskian. Performances are full throttle and the recording makes the most of it all. Definitely for musical hedonists — musical snobs had better steer clear.