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.