- Kabir Padavali, for soprano & orchestra
- Seeing, concerto for piano & orchestra with augmented percussion
Christopher Rouse is often regarded as an eclectic composer because he has employed multiple styles, musical references, and extended techniques in his music, though they are always used to express underlying emotions and ideas. "Seeing" (1998) is Rouse's free-form piano concerto, inspired by the "Piano Concerto in A minor" of Robert Schumann and the psychedelic song "Seeing" by Moby Grape guitarist Skip Spence. The collisions of quotations and original material result in a dizzying, hallucinatory study of the conflicts between sanity and mental illness (both Schumann and Spence were institutionalized for psychosis), and the nature of visionary creativity. Pianist Orion Weiss is the soloist, backed by David Alan Miller and the Albany Symphony, and they play with incredible precision and focused energy, despite the chaotic and frenetic impression the score makes. Balanced against this turbulent work is Rouse's collection of songs for soprano and orchestra, "Kabir Padavali" (1998), a setting of six poems by the Indian poet Kabir. In contrast with "Seeing," the songs are, for the most part, poignantly lyrical and contemplative, reflecting on the topics of music, love, and spirituality that Kabir's poetry explores. Soprano Talise Trevigne displays a wide range of emotions, from hushed wonder to religious rapture, and the orchestra gives her atmospheric and powerful accompaniment. These world premiere recordings offer polished performances and full orchestral sound, making this a great CD to introduce Rouse's thought-provoking music to new listeners. Highly recommended.