Orchestral Masters Vol. 2 Review

A lovely review of our second volume of Orchestral Masters.

Beautifully Performed

Contemporary
orchestral music -
enjoyed by
GEOFF PEARCE

'Very pleasurable and committed performances.'

This two CD set of contemporary orchestral music from composers around the world is beautifully performed by the Brno Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Mikel Toms.

The composers represented here are all masters of orchestral writing, and whilst the music will create a challenge for many listeners as it does not have many 'tunes' in the traditional sense, a different approach is needed, looking at texture, combinations of timbres and the portrayal of 'atmosphere'. Do this, in conjunction with the interesting programme notes, and I believe you will find the set rewarding and enjoyable.

Edward Smalldone's work The beauty of Innuendo explores the beauty found within a memory, rather than trying to create a direct experience. It is reminiscent of both Sibelius and Douglas Lilburn, with its brilliant brass, high wind writing and cells of notes that gradually build into a longer phrase.

Peter Dayton's From Sombre Lands, inspired by John Hitchens' semi-abstract landscapes, contains some beautiful writing including solo violin, delicate percussion and high wind work.

Symon Clarke's Three Orbits, depicting three moons of Saturn, are more a reflection of the character of the Greek Gods after which the moons are named, rather than a depiction of the orbits themselves (although the middle movement combines both). Iampetus is melodic but not tonally tuneful. Hyperion features glissandi, delicate chords and brilliant brass and wind writing over more static strings. It's sometimes restless, and would definitely be hard to bring off, but these forces manage it very well. Tethys is delicate in many places and hauntingly beautiful, sometimes reminding me of the music of Charles Koechlin. This movement would resonate with many listeners.

Youngwoo Yoo's very interesting piece Honbul revolves around the Buddhist concept of reincarnation and the journey of the 'Fire of the Soul' after death, searching for a new life to enter. It features an evocative cello solo, and some sections are quite beautiful. Several lovely quiet moments really shimmer.

Zhiyi Wang's The Aroma of Exotic is also very interesting and can be viewed as a cross-cultural experience by an Occidental experiencing Oriental culture or vice versa. At times I was reminded of the dawn section of Ravel's Daphnis and Chloe, and I liked this work a lot.

Scott McIntyre's imaginative Particle of Time depicts the history of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, and its growth from a small ensemble to what it is today. It contains some dazzling orchestration.

Kenneth Froelich's First Symphony, 'Dream Dialogs', follows. A substantial three movement work, it is very listenable and has strong tonal centres. I really liked this, and if I had to choose a movement to introduce this work, it would be the second, entitled 'Spinning Yarns', influenced by the jazz concept of 'trading fours' and full of vitality and rhythmic drive.

Bernard Hughes' Anaphora is dynamic and interesting and, whilst being modern, is easy to listen to.

Capriccio Mediterraneo, from the pen of Mauro Farrugia, is a lovely work depicting the three Mediterranean regions. At times reminiscent of early Bartók or Kodály, it is one of the most listenable tracks here, and I think it will be liked by all.

Roydon Tse's Remembrances was a real surprise — a lovely heartfelt reminiscence, full of warmth and longing. Ravel is a strong influence here, and the work is very listenable and one that I expect to often return to.

Last on the album is Paul Siskind's Clarion Call, written as an opener for a concert, it starts with a fanfare but is a lot more than just that. A very easy piece to enjoy, it rounds off this disc very nicely.

This is one of the best compilations of recently composed music, and contains plenty for everyone to enjoy. Very pleasurable and committed performances.

Copyright © 26 March 2015 Geoff Pearce,
Sydney, Australia

NEW OPPORTUNITIES for 2016

We are VERY excited about our next year here at ABLAZE! We have been working hard on creating a full suite of opportunities for composers. From chamber music, to electronic music, from choral to orchestral music we have your compositional voice in mind with our NEW series of opportunities:

SINFONIA is a series that will concentrate on a large chamber ensemble of 15 or so instruments—one of each orchestral instrument with the exception of TWO violins. So the lineup is flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn, trumpet, trombone, bass trombone, tuba, percussion (1), piano, harp, 2 violins, viola, cello and contrabass. You do not have to write for the whole of this ensemble, but we would like to see works of Sinfonietta proportions—one of each orchestral instrument, give or take. We will record, edit, mix and master the winning works for this series into a really terrific new set of discs that we hope will feature YOU!

PIERROT is a series that will revolve around the instrumental grouping we all know as Pierrot Ensemble: flute, clarinet, piano, violin and cello. No voice will be allowed in these submissions but a sixth instrument of percussion may be allowed. Again, this will be a studio recording that we edit, mix and master and distribute worldwide on Naxos Music Library.

STAGE & SCREEN is a new series devoted to all of the great work we see that is not intended as concert work, but rather to accompany film or video or to act in conjunction with live theater or dance. The SYNC licensing rights of this series may even have a good return for composers if their tracks are taken up!

HONG KONG NEW MUSIC ENSEMBLE and the ECHOFLUXX 16 Festival in Prague, Czech Republic are partnering with ABLAZE to curate a full evening recital for string quartet and guzheng (a type of Chinese zither). This will be presented live to an audience during the festival in May 2016 in Prague and recorded for release as a 'live' recording through ABLAZE and distributed worldwide through Naxos Music Library, AMAZON.com, Albany Music Distributors, etc. This is a great opportunity for exposure in Europe by the HKNME and potentially flowing on to performances in Asia if the ensemble loves your piece!

In additional to all of these new initiatives, we are calling for further entries to our established orchestral series ORCHESTRAL MASTERS, our choral series NEW CHORAL and ELECTRONIC MASTERS and MILLENNIAL MASTERS Series. Whatever you write—ABLAZE has you covered.

Apply today!

 

NEW CHORAL disc — First hearing

Totally excited to hear the first edit of our first disc in our NEW CHORAL series!! The fabulous First Readings Choir under the superb direction of J. David Moore has produced performances of new work of which we are really proud. Our tremendous Minneapolis based engineer has also produced a remarkably warm, homogenous and present sound. We hope to have this really great disc out before the winter holidays, so please stay tuned!

Gearing up for BRNO.

In a little over two weeks we will start our recording sessions for two new discs—Orchestral Masters Vol. 3 and a new Composer Monograph CD by the wonderful British composer Symon Clarke (whose beautiful and ravishingly orchestrated Three Orbits was released on Orchestral Masters Vol. 2).

Over this period we will record fifteen new works by eleven different composers from around the world all in just over 6 days. It will be a whirlwind indeed, so stay tuned for daily updates once in Brno!
 

Welcome to our new Website

Welcome to our new ABLAZE Records website. Here you can preview and purchase from the ABLAZE Records catalog. We will post updates of all of our activities and projects so you can stay up to date with what we are doing.

But for now—THANK YOU for visiting our website and STAY TUNED!