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New Jersey-born Jonathan Leshnoff (b1973) studied at the Peabody Conservatory and University of Maryland. He has made a name for himself over the past 16 years with four symphonies, two oratorios and eight concertos – the most recent of which, for piano (2018-19), is given its premiere recording here.

Leshnoff’s Piano Concerto was written for Joyce Yang, who plays it with considerable élan. In his booklet note, the composer records that he was hugely impressed by hearing Yang rehearse Prokofiev’s Third Concerto, and there is a good deal of mid-20th-century modernism in the work he produced for her. Cast in four movements, the opening span is a fast-paced toccata. The slow movement, ‘Neshama’, is inspired by Jewish mysticism (a recurrent theme in Leshnoff’s music) and provides the work’s poetic, albeit schmaltzy, heart. After a brief, nimble and rather fun scherzo, the festive finale rounds out the work brightly, ending with a coda that returns to the main theme of the first movement.

Leshnoff’s Third Symphony (2013-15) takes war for its inspiration, including a final span based on two letters sent home by American servicemen during the First World War. Nicely sung by Stephen Powell, it adds a degree of subtlety and depth to an otherwise unremarkable work. Michael Stern secures fine performances from the Kansas City Symphony Orchestra, captured in nice, clear sound.

GUY RICKARDS Read the full review on Agora Classica


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