Stephen Frost The Lesson

Three premiere recordings by Stephen Frost open with his lush setting of W.H. Auden's poem "The Lesson," where guest vocalist Arve Moen Bergset shines in a lavish setting of strings, marimba and glockenspiel. His lyrical coda brings this performance by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra to a compelling climax and sets the stage for fellow Norwegian, Sigyn Birkeland. She generates warm and sprightly sonorities on an unforgiving instrument and Frost composed his first bassoon concerto especially for her. The extended second movement features Birkeland's most exquisite playing as the atmospheric scope of Frost's vision ranges from dramatic crescendos to sustained lyrical interludes. Frost's oboe concerto unfolds as an expressive showcase for Simon Emes with the Ensemble 2000 under the direction of Tony Harrison. It confirms how Frost's early work explores fresh romantic possibilities in a radical fusion of Gustav Mahler's unrestrained expressionism and the postmodern minimalism of Phillip Glass. (S.R.I.)