Darrett Adkins: Myth & Tradition

by Illiam Sebitz

Oberlin Associate Professor of Cello, Darrett Adkins has released a CD titled, Myth & Tradition. Distributed by Naxos of America, Myth & Tradition is available through select retailers and digital music channels worldwide. Oberlin Music is the official label of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. Myth & Tradition includes the world premiere of Su Lian Tan’s Legends of Kintamani.

Adkins has commissioned and been the dedicatee of many important new works for cello, including Jeffrey Mumford’s concerto, which Adkins premiered with the Cleveland Chamber Symphony.

On Myth & Tradition, he teams up with the Oberlin Contemporary Music Ensemble, under the direction of Timothy Weiss, for the world-premiere recording of another Adkins commission, Su Lian Tan’s Legends of Kintamani. Inspired by the composer’s travels to Southeast Asia, the five-movement story depicts a return to a more innocent time and place, where mythology and reality combine in fairy tales.

Also commissioned for Adkins is Philip Cashian’s Concerto for Cello and Strings, a showcase for Adkins’ virtuosity made up of a series of interrelating and contrasting sections supported by the Contemporary Music Ensemble. Completing the collection is Richard Wernick’s Concerto for Cello and Ten Players, which was commissioned by the Twentieth Century Consort in 1979 and premiered two years later at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C.

Opening with “Legends of Kintamani: I. Prelude,” a majestic opening, with a hero theme and presentation. The influences of the orient can be heard throughout, with characteristic pentatonics and themes, that build upon oriental colored scales and rhythms. Adkins’ cello playing is robust and authoritative. His tone is warm and his phrasing is romantic when called for, but aggressive when needed. The Oberlin Contemporary Music Ensemble does a wonderful job supporting Adkins, Weiss’ conducting is superb.

Cashian’s “Concerto for Cello and Strings” is an adventurous composition that has magical rhythms and creates beautiful colors between the cello and strings. Angular melodies dance over a subtle dark, low register theme. The energy is built with pizzicato stabs and flurries of melodies with intermittent sustained chords with energetic dissonance. The cello part intensifies, Adkin’s virtuosic skills are called upon, as he delivers with clear complex rhythmical phrases, wide ranging melodies and large intervallic jumps, percussive effects with his bow and above all else, the authority and maturity to pull it all off.

Cellist, Darrett Adkins’ CD titled, Myth & Tradition, is an outstanding collection of modern composing. Performed with the utmost attention to detail in: sound quality, ensemble performance and direction, soloist clarity and musicians, including the flow of the program. Pushing the cello cannon forward is two works by the outstanding composer, Su Lian Tan and Philip Cashian. Highly musical and recommended.



Tracks to sample first: “Legends of Kintamani: I. Prelude,” “Legends of Kintamani: V. Finale,” “Concerto for Cello and Strings” and “Concerto for Cello & 10 Players I. Entrada” The song to take a chance is “Legends of Kintamani: II. Garuda.”


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Illiam Sebitz
Illiam Sebitz

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