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Music Well Worth Getting to Know,
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This review is from: Julian Anderson: Fantasias, The Crazed Moon & The Discovery of Heaven (MP3 Download)
You know that you have arrived as a composer when one of your works receives a second recording: "The Crazed Moon" receives another fine performance following its appearance on his debut, award winning; "Alhambra Fantasy" album. It is quite a dark and atmospheric piece, in part a memorial to a musical colleague.
The other two works presented receive their premiere recordings and continue to show the same orchestral virtuosity, colour, rhythmic vitality, clarity and harmonic richness. "Fantasias" is effectively a five movement concerto for orchestra and is possibly the most approachable of all the three works here. "The Discovery of Heaven" is the most recent work of the three displaying the same qualities. It seems to move from an ethereal, heavenly plane, in the first movement to become increasingly earthbound and urban over the following two. It's the richest and most substantial of the three works.
If you're new to his music then useful points of reference are early Stravinsky, spectral harmonies, Lutoslawski and even a touch of later Britten in his harmonies. It is contemporary music that is instantly approachable without ever pandering to commercial fashion. These live performances by the LPO are well recorded with little background noise and perhaps the bass instruments sound a little thin on this recording - but that's a very minor quibble. There are three albums, as I write, now dedicated to Anderson's music and I recommend all wholeheartedly. This latest is a very welcome addition.