Bolcom: Violin Concerto, Fantasia Concertante, and Fifth Symphony

With an output ranging from a three-hour choral setting of William Blake poetry to a series of elegant piano rags, composer William Bolcom, 54, ranks among America’s foremost eclectics. The Violin Concerto, composed in 1984 for the Romanian-born virtuoso Sergiu Luca (and played by him with a kind of manic pride), embodies a tribute to two of Bolcom’s musical deities. The rhapsodic, jagged outer movements call up memories of bygone jazz violinist Joe Venuti; the slow movement, with its ghostly dialogue between soloist and offstage trumpet, could be a latter-day echo of Charles Ives’ ”The Unanswered Question.” Bolcom’s 1986 ”Fantasia Concertante” wanders gracefully through the spirit of Mozart, without pilfering any actual tunes; his 1990 Fifth Symphony brings together elements as unlikely as a quote from Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde and a 1920s fox-trot. Teeming with outside influences, Bolcom’s music never sounds like a grab bag; he has enough skill to rework musical history according to his own all-embracing vision. A

Bolcom: Violin Concerto, Fantasia Concertante, and Fifth Symphony
  • Music