AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE

INDEPENDENT CRITICS REVIEWING CLASSICAL RECORDINGS AND MUSIC IN CONCERT
July/August 2007
By Donald Rosenberg, Plain Dealer Music Critic

“Cleveland Orchestra” — Robert Finn

“…On one thing, however, everyone agrees: the orchestra is playing as well as ever----something Clevelanders can hear and take pride in…

Between Mozart and Tchaikovsky, however, came the highpoint of the evening: the world premiere of a Rhapsody for Viola and Orchestra by a New York-based composer that few in the hall ever have heard of. Richard Sortomme had been a music school chum of Principal Violist Robert Vernon, and in response to a commission from the orchestra he produced a fine 17-minute piece in a conservative modern harmonic idiom that showed off Vernon’s instrument (and his mastery of it) splendidly. A catchy little neoromantic tune threaded its way through the piece, encountering a brassy march here, a dispute with the orchestral percussion there, and finally a kind of manic Scotch reel episode just before the hushed conclusion. Here is a work that speaks to an audience with music for savoring rather than academic exercises or arcane technical experiments. There is not so much repertory for viola and orchestra that such an imaginative and listenable work cannot make its way in the wider concert world…..”