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Classical - Released September 3, 2013 | Naxos

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Classical - Released April 15, 2000 | Naxos

Booklet
The musical style of Philip Glass (b. 1937) became widely recognizable by the 1990s, if not earlier. Many lesser composers imitated him (and still imitate him) and he has obviously become one of the more important figures in late twentieth-century and early twenty-first-century music. He has more than a few detractors, though, who hear his music as unbearably repetitive and without sufficient development. The three works on this CD, all from the 1980s, reflect Glass' mature minimalist style, and, like much of his work, will fare better with certain listeners on first hearing than on subsequent ones. The Violin Concerto was premiered by Paul Zukofsky in April, 1987, at a time when the composer was enjoying acclaim from the success of Satyagraha and Akhnaten, which both appeared earlier in the decade. The Concerto is a dramatic, intense work whose ever-active rhythms impart much tension and passion. That's hardly news in describing so many Glass works, but here it seems especially so. The slow second movement (which isn't so slow, actually, thanks to the busy rhythms) is haunting and atmospheric, and the finale contains probably the most compelling music in the work. At nine minutes and twenty seconds, it is the longest movement and sounds the most challenging to the soloist. The driving yet gossamer motif that dominates the finale is unforgettable, and its repetition does not become too much of a good thing, the composer investing the music with tension and varying the material and orchestration quite effectively. The performance by the young Australian violinist Adele Anthony is splendid, totally convincing. Her tone and technique are fully up to the task, and her interpretive skills are impressive. Yukuo Yuasa and his Ulster players abet her with a fine sense for Glass' idiom. I'm sure the composer will like this recording. As for the other items here, the Prelude and Dance from Akhnaten are the more substantial. Maestro Yuasa seems to have a fine grasp on Glass' style, as textures blend nicely and rhythms sound with elasticity and springiness, and the whole of the music takes on an atmosphere perfectly appropriate to the ancient imagery associated with the opera from which it was taken. Company, from 1982, written to accompany an adaptation of Samuel Beckett's work of the same name, is a piece consisting of four short sections. Each features music with much rhythmic and atmospheric interest. As in the Akhnaten excerpts, the Ulster players acquit themselves admirably here, and Yuasa seems again to have a firm grasp of Glass' style. Naxos provides excellent sound and informative notes, which include short biographies of Ms. Anthony and Maestro Yuasa. © TiVo
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Classical - Released June 5, 2012 | Naxos

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JoAnn Falletta and the Ulster Orchestra present a diverse program of lesser known works by Gustav Holst, the composer of the perennially popular suite The Planets. Holst's music was informed early on by the late Romantics, and traces of Johannes Brahms can be plainly heard in the Walt Whitman Overture, which Holst composed at college when he was still searching for a personal style. The Symphony in F major, "The Cotswolds," was a major step forward in developing a distinctive voice, and though it partakes of conventions in British symphonic writing, it shows a growing awareness of folk music's potential in his work. A Winter Idyll, influenced by Holst's teacher, Charles Villiers Stanford, shows much the same tentative exploration of the Walt Whitman Overture. But there is a pronounced change in flavor and mood in the Japanese Suite and the symphonic poem, Indra, which show Holst's adoption of impressionist harmonies and atmospheric orchestration, as well as a turning away from purely German influences to draw on Asian musical ideas and philosophies. Fans of Holst's music will find the last 25 minutes of the CD will put them on familiar ground, though the first 40 minutes of the album will at least provide context for his career. The orchestra delivers satisfying performances, and Falletta leads with great control and clarity, so all the pieces feel fully realized and exciting to play. © TiVo
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Classical - Released December 4, 2020 | Naxos

Booklet
This is the third volume in the series of orchestral music by Milanese-born Elisabetta Brusa. Sharing its neo-tonal language with her Nittemero Symphony, the imposing, vividly immediate and approachable Symphony No. 1 is her first work for large orchestra. The symphonic poem Merlin evokes the great magician of legend through rich orchestral colours and powerful rhythms. © Naxos
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Classical - Released April 1, 2000 | Naxos Special Projects - France

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Classical - Released April 15, 2000 | Naxos

The musical style of Philip Glass (b. 1937) became widely recognizable by the 1990s, if not earlier. Many lesser composers imitated him (and still imitate him) and he has obviously become one of the more important figures in late twentieth-century and early twenty-first-century music. He has more than a few detractors, though, who hear his music as unbearably repetitive and without sufficient development. The three works on this CD, all from the 1980s, reflect Glass' mature minimalist style, and, like much of his work, will fare better with certain listeners on first hearing than on subsequent ones. The Violin Concerto was premiered by Paul Zukofsky in April, 1987, at a time when the composer was enjoying acclaim from the success of Satyagraha and Akhnaten, which both appeared earlier in the decade. The Concerto is a dramatic, intense work whose ever-active rhythms impart much tension and passion. That's hardly news in describing so many Glass works, but here it seems especially so. The slow second movement (which isn't so slow, actually, thanks to the busy rhythms) is haunting and atmospheric, and the finale contains probably the most compelling music in the work. At nine minutes and twenty seconds, it is the longest movement and sounds the most challenging to the soloist. The driving yet gossamer motif that dominates the finale is unforgettable, and its repetition does not become too much of a good thing, the composer investing the music with tension and varying the material and orchestration quite effectively. The performance by the young Australian violinist Adele Anthony is splendid, totally convincing. Her tone and technique are fully up to the task, and her interpretive skills are impressive. Yukuo Yuasa and his Ulster players abet her with a fine sense for Glass' idiom. I'm sure the composer will like this recording. As for the other items here, the Prelude and Dance from Akhnaten are the more substantial. Maestro Yuasa seems to have a fine grasp on Glass' style, as textures blend nicely and rhythms sound with elasticity and springiness, and the whole of the music takes on an atmosphere perfectly appropriate to the ancient imagery associated with the opera from which it was taken. Company, from 1982, written to accompany an adaptation of Samuel Beckett's work of the same name, is a piece consisting of four short sections. Each features music with much rhythmic and atmospheric interest. As in the Akhnaten excerpts, the Ulster players acquit themselves admirably here, and Yuasa seems again to have a firm grasp of Glass' style. Naxos provides excellent sound and informative notes, which include short biographies of Ms. Anthony and Maestro Yuasa. © TiVo
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Classical - Released January 7, 2014 | Naxos

Hi-Res Booklet
The appointment of the American JoAnn Falletta as chief conductor of the Ulster Orchestra resulted in several fine releases of music by Irish-English composer E.J. Moeran, who had somewhat fallen into neglect. Moeran's music is like a harmonically spiked version of Vaughan Williams', with broad structures marked out by melodies in a traditional way but with a good deal of chromaticism and a bit of an edge that's not always easy to pin down. He had a knack for tunes that sound as if they were drawn from folk song books, but were not. Falletta has been a specialist in just this sort of thing, and she and the Ulster Orchestra deliver sharp, sparkling performances here. The best-known of these pieces is the tone poem In the Mountain Country, written early in Moeran's career, but the real finds are the three Rhapsodies, the last of them a breezy work with piano. Each of these contains a really good tune or two. The Overture for a Masque is a light piece that fulfills its stated function. Another worthwhile find for lovers of British orchestral music. © TiVo
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Classical - Released January 1, 1981 | Chandos

Booklet
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Classical - Released February 19, 2001 | Naxos

Booklet
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Classical - Released October 30, 2007 | Naxos

Booklet
The essence of this recording can be understood through two of the featured titles: Overture: Beckus the Dandipratt and Concerto for Two Pianos (Three Hands), and the fact that one of the selections concludes with a rambunctious, tambourine-fueled rumba. Featuring the two above-named works plus Malcolm Arnold's Fantasy on a Theme of John Field and Concerto for piano duet and strings, this program shows the English modernist composer at his high-spirited best. Though none of these works is formally, harmonically, or emotionally challenging, with their kaleidoscopic colors, kinetic rhythms, infectious melodies, and broad humor, they are all thoroughly entertaining and often incredibly funny. Pianists Phillip Dyson and Kevin Sargent are more than capable of handling whatever Arnold throws at them, and while the Irish Ulster Orchestra does sometimes slip in the hurley-burley, Finnish conductor Esa Heikkilä holds it together no matter what. Produced by Simon Taylor and engineered by Davy Neill in Belfast's Ulster Hall in 2007, the recorded sound here is bright, colorful, and vivid. © TiVo
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Classical - Released January 21, 2006 | Naxos

Booklet
Ignore for a moment that this recording is part of Naxos' British Piano Concertos series. Hamilton Harty is among the five or six names that come to mind (usually after some thought) when asked to name Irish classical composers. His most popular works -- An Irish Symphony, With the Wild Geese, In Ireland -- do refer to his homeland in some way. However, he was well-educated musically and spent much of his career conducting the works of many composers in Europe, America, and Australia. It isn't a surprise, then, that the two larger works on this recording by the Ulster Orchestra and conductor Takuo Yuasa are more cosmopolitan in nature. All three works here are true to the Romantic tradition, using full and colorful orchestrations and emotionally rich, tonal melodies and harmonies. Also, one of Harty's better-known works, the Comedy Overture, which opens the program, is a concert overture that alternates a lively, sunny, almost reel-like theme with a calmer, warm one. Yuasa makes sure the orchestra doesn't lose momentum in the slower passages, and maintains a breezy lightness throughout. The influence of Rimsky-Korsakov, and even Borodin, is plain in the Fantasy Scenes, subtitled "From an Eastern Romance." Much of the harmonies are the same as in In the Steppes of Central Asia and Prince Igor, and the four-movement programmatic idea of a court entertainer falling in love with and rescuing the Sultan's daughter follows from Scheherazade. The use of flutes and bells in the music is also reminiscent of the Russian composers' writing. The movements are brief, but very picturesque, as in the Overture. It does sound old-fashioned for its 1919 date, but it entertains in a more lighthearted, swashbuckling way than those earlier masterpieces. The Piano Concerto is more expected for its time, the early '20s. It is a lush, passionate work in the vein of Rachmaninov, complete with gong, with the orchestra and piano complementing and setting off each other's part. It opens with a headlong downward spill that ends with the tympani booming, and it continues with swells and troughs of emotion. In both the outer movements, lyrical, and at times florid, melody is mixed with a tense drama that occasionally reveals its origins with a Scotch snap. The middle movement feels nocturnal, yet still summery and warm. It's a real workout for the pianist, Peter Donohoe, who puts wonderful ripples into the ornamental runs. Both he and the orchestra put their all into the music, but it is always precise and well shaped, never overdone. The sound of the recording is also very good, full and lush, like the music, making this a rewarding sample of Harty's writing. © TiVo
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Classical - Released March 3, 2015 | Naxos

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Classical - Released August 18, 2000 | Naxos

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Classical - Released March 1, 2015 | Naxos Special Projects

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Classical - Released January 1, 2000 | Chandos