Virtuoso violinist and Georgia native Robert McDuffie has been praised for his commanding performances of diverse repertoire on Telarc. Recently Paul Griffiths, writing of McDuffie in the Sunday New York Times, said "He is superb in the lyrical concertos of Mendelssohn and Bruch. He plays Viennese schmaltz with huge appeal. And he makes a strong case for American music of widely different kinds, across the spectrum from the craggy to the blithe."
In this recording, the first to feature a coupling of the violin concertos of Adams and Glass, McDuffie displays his trademark affinity for contemporary material. "Among the present generation of exceptionally gifted artists Bobby McDuffie stands out as a truly unique voice," said composer John Adams. "His performance of my Violin Concerto has been one of my best musical memories."
Adams's concerto was composed in 1993, as a joint commission from the Minnesota Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, and the New York City Ballet, intended to be a work for both the concert hall and the stage. Adams called the work "clearly the product of a 'post-Minimalist' epoch, one in which a simple, clearly-defined language has given way to another of greater synthesis and ambiguity."
The term "Minimalism" has often been applied to the works of Philip Glass, though the composer himself dislikes the designation. His Violin Concerto was premiered at Carnegie Hall in April 1987. "The piece explores what an orchestra can do for me," said Glass, who termed the performance on this recording by McDuffie as "beautiful and authoritative," and that of Christoph Eschenbach and the Houston Symphony "splendid." He considers the concerto form to be more "personal and theatrical" than other fully orchestral genres, and in this piece the soloist is set apart from the ensemble by the contrast of cascading arpeggios and long, singing phrases.
"It is the great good fortune of American composers that Bobby has taken up our works with such missionary zeal," says Adams. "His performances…have set a standard of excellence, intuitive comprehension and enthusiastic partisanship that has help to establish them as a living repertory. I am honored and delighted to count myself among his many collaborators."