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Julian Anderson: Alhambra Fantasy [CD]

Oliver Knussen , BBC Symphony Orchestra , London Sinfonietta Audio CD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
Price: £16.39 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Julian Anderson: Alhambra Fantasy + Julian Anderson: Book of Hours + Julian Anderson: Fantasias / The Crazed Moon / The Discovery of Heaven
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Product details

  • Audio CD (7 Aug 2006)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Ondine
  • ASIN: B000GFRE2Q
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 222,577 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Song TitleArtist Time Price
Listen  1. KhorovodLondon Sinfonietta13:01Album Only
Listen  2. The Stations of the SunBBC Symphony Orchestra18:28Album Only
Listen  3. The Crazed MoonBBC Symphony Orchestra13:29Album Only
Listen  4. Alhambra FantasyLondon Sinfonietta11:25Album Only
Listen  5. Diptych: I. ParadesBBC Symphony Orchestra 9:14Album Only
Listen  6. Diptych: II. Pavillons en l' AirBBC Symphony Orchestra11:11Album Only

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A First Class Debut 13 July 2010
By Mr. A. R. Boyes TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I wrote a review, a few months back of the most recent Thomas Ades recording, "Tevot", and I note that this seems to have been read rather more than any of my other reviews. That suggests, regardless of whether his music is liked, many are keen to learn about the progress of England's "leading composer". I wonder how many will read this review about a composer of the same generation, whose work until recently, had not been recorded? Well it's fairly pointless to start a debate about who is the best but Julian Anderson's work is certainly highly accomplished.

This album, issued by Ondine, was closely followed by an even better one from NMC. That is not to criticise this issue; Ondine has a great track record with contemporary music. Both recordings are generously filled, unusual for contemporary music.

This disc includes five shortish works; none longer than twenty minutes. These are his earliest published orchestral works. As a group they have much in common. A good starting point for listeners would be early Stravinsky - the music from The Rite of Spring and Song of the Nightingale. The music is harmonically rich but incisively orchestrated; rhythmically complex with much of the music built up from short melodic cells. The works tend to become more harmonically complex as they develop. The music is, therefore, basically tonal but challengingly so at times - what is often described as "post serial" or "new tonality"; whatever that means!

The earliest work on the disc is "Diptych", not surprisingly in two movements. The second is like a mirror of the first and works, despite the movement descriptive titles, like a small symphony or sinfonietta. It's an impressive debut piece.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
This disk of music by Julian Anderson is one of the most exciting I've come across by any living composer.

Anderson's music is first and foremost POETIC. Unlike many of his composer peers, who are generally either astringent modernists or people who rely entirely on a kind of leaden expressive sarcasm to make their musical statements, the 5 pieces on this disk are the result of a refreshingly rare and candid attempt to re-assert the primacy of beauty in new music.

Anderson himself points out in the liner notes that his main source of inspiration is sung melody rather than instrumental technical wizardry, as evidenced in the heady, long-breathed, melismatic slower sections of his works. Although his compositional technique is very close to that of his older British contemporaries Oliver Knussen and George Benjamin, his expressive world is radically different - perhaps closer to Debussy than anyone else.

"Khorovod" and "Alhambra Fantasy" were both commissioned by the London Sinfonietta, and each take that 15-player ensemble through a virtuoso whirlwind of sumptuous colours, textures and emotions.

"Diptych", "The Stations of the Sun" and "The Crazed Moon" are large-scale orchestral works, much more expansive in utterance, painting in broad brush-strokes and frequently possessing a bittersweet emotional undercurrent, using the sonic grotto of wonders that is the modern symphony orchestra to maximum effect.

If you've lost faith in new music and need something to revitalise you and broaden your horizons, start here.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Music from the centre of the Sun 4 Feb 2014
By John Ferngrove TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I had started to form an appreciation of Julian Anderson's work from the NMC release Book of Hours, but having finally got around to giving this earlier compilation the attention it deserves over the last few days, I now realise he is a contender for my new favourite living composer, or at the very least, new favourite living English composer. That being so, he would be supplanting my great musical hero, Harrison Birtwistle. But if the primary expressive element of Birtwistle is granite, then that of Anderson is shear liquid sunlight. There is a shimmering golden aura around everything that Anderson does. Tone points, tone sheets, tone clouds, tone clusters, polyrhythmy, arhythmy, tintinabulations, joyous clamours and fractal spirallings around strange attractors; it seems a new vocabulary is needed to talk about what Anderson does. He seems to have broken into a musical future where new music can once more be ravishingly beautiful. Even the old dynamic of tonality vs. atonality is transcended. Anderson just puts notes together in thrilling ways, whether horizontally or vertically, without constraint of any dogma or method. I'm not saying that this is music that those unfamiliar with contemporary idioms will get instantly, without effort. But I do believe that if any open minded music lover who surrenders themselves to these works with fresh and innocent ears, then understanding will dawn soon, (it took me about three or four plays), and when it does treasures of great beauty will be revealed.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a major talent in modern music 26 Feb 2007
By SONNET CLV - Published on
Format:Audio CD
Julian Anderson, still a young man by composer standards, is splendidly represented in this disc conducted by the inimitable Oliver Knussen, who, along with elder statesman Pierre Boulez remains the leading champion of contemporary music. I have been following Knussen's career since I first became aware of him -- upon hearing him conduct, at the tender age of 15, his precociously splashy First Symphony with the London Symphony Orchestra. That was just about the time Julian Anderson was born, and Anderson's equally precocious first major work, Diptych, is represented on this disc along with a handful of later pieces. Yet the album is worth its price for Diptych alone, a sprawling, noisy, melodic, reaching, searching, fantastical, colorful, lyrical, bombastic, tender, and all-round just wonderful piece of contemporary music. It is no wonder conductor Knussen can so identify with the piece. One must imagine that Knussen is remembering back to that LSO concert of 1967 and his conducting debut of his own early symphony as he weaves his way through the pages of Anderson's piece. There is love and respect in every note -- from all parties involved: composer, conductor, performers.

And Diptych is only the beginning -- the earliest work on this sampler disc of Anderson's compositions that range over a period of ten years, through the 90's. The album is simply well-worth hearing. If you love contemporary music, it's a must have. If you want to find out what all the fuss of contemporary music is about, there is no better place to start than here. The range of expression is astounding. Each piece is a gem.

Get this disc. Your modern music collection is conspicuously naked without it.

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Per Norgard meets Bela Bartok in contemporary England 20 July 2008
By Christopher Culver - Published on
Format:Audio CD
I was really excited when I came across this CD. I have long known the young English composer Julian Anderson as an insightful commentator on contemporary composers and a vocal supporter of Per Norgard, my favourite. I was also aware that he has a keen interest in the folk music of certain Eastern European countries where I spend a lot of time. Ondine has issued the first recording completely dedicated to Anderson's music, and Oliver Knussen leads the BBC Symphony Orchestra and the London Sinfonietta.

"Khorovod" (1996) is Anderson's most popular work, and it's easy to see why. An exhuberant bundle of Balkan dance rhythms, it holds the listener's attention throughout and offers a festiveness rarely heard in contemporary music. One notes with pleasure that Anderson's soundworld is diatonic and informed by the music of the spectralists, but without the shackles of traditional Western tonality. "Alhambra Fantasy" (2000) begins with a similar folk dance sound--though one can immediately hear that Anderson's skills as an orchestrator have matured--before going into more gentle lines evocative of the Arab world, and seems all very confident and elegantly crafted

"The Crazed Moon" (1997) opens with an exotic fanfare by offstage trumpets, moves into percussion still low in dynamic, and then widens into slowly developing orchestral polyphony. When so much of Anderson's music is joyful and exhuberant, this piece is remarkable for its apocalyptic soundworld, inspired by a terrifying Yeats poem. The amount of strands going on at the same time here offer excellent relistening value.

The two-movement "Diptych" (1989-90) was Anderson's first orchestral work. The composer wanted to write two very different scenes, but with similar music material. The first movement, "Parades", is discontinuous with a wide array of percussion sounds, and I sense a clear inspiration for Per Norgard's Symphony No. 4. The second, "Pavillons en l'Air", is more coherent and brass-heavy. It states more overtly the melodic ideas of the work, and develops a lovely passacaglia. This is a very mature piece, and one can hardly believe that it's a student work.

I give this CD only four stars because at a few moments Anderson's music slips into that same sort of generic British orchestral modernism one finds in the lesser work of Birtwistle, Benjamin or Ades, and I don't care too much for the work "Stations of the Sun". Nonetheless, I'm pleased to have discovered a character that synthesizes contemporary visions of tonality versus atonality with rich rhythms from exotic parts of the world.
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