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A European Odyssey Box set
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A European Odyssey is the fruit of the London Schubert Players' international project Invitation to Composers one of the 87 selected from 296 by the European Commission in 2009 for its innovative, creative and educational profile. The two-year project challenged composers to write for specific instrumental combinations that were missing or seldom encountered in the chamber music repertoire. For some of these, they were asked to draw inspiration from masterworks of classical composers from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.
About the Artist
The London Schubert Players chamber orchestra was founded in 1989 by pianist Anda Anastasescu as the orchestra-in-residence of the French Institute in London. The Players' concert tours in Europe, Asia and South America have been greeted with enthusiasm and critical acclaim. The London Schubert Players Trust promotes, maintains, improves and advances public education in classical music.
Top Customer Reviews
The first disc includes the Mendelssohn, Saint-Saens and Enescu. These are themselves a delight and relatively unfamiliar. The second and third dics then contain 17 of the 37 compositions inspired by this project. (the remaining 20 can be downloaded or purchased on separate CDs).
Each composition tells you which piece it was modelled on.
Of the many pieces here which are fascinating, the highlight for me was Avram's Ten Romanian Songs from Bela Bartok's Folk Music Collection. These pieces have been based on some of the 5000 folk melodies Bartok published but Avram has avoided using any Bartok used in his own works. They present fascinating rhythms and well worth listening to.
Bozicevic's Marittimo is an exploration of the sea. It certainly has minimalist tendencies with the constant movement of the water in the background.
This is a fascinating set of discs. Some unusual combinations of instruments, several with trumpet.
The Shakespeare quote on the cover from The Tempest: "Be not afeard: the isle is full of noises,
Sounds and sweet airs, that gives delight, and hurt not." You can buy this set with confidence and not be afraid.
The London Schubert Players deal excellently with the above quoted examples which precede the works on the two other CD's written in 2009-2010 - representing the output of 14 contemporary composers.
The Mendelssohn "Concerto for Violin, Piano and String Quintet" written when the composer was 14, is quite delightful although, at times, presenting the appearance of a violin and piano sonata accompanied, at times, by the rest of the ensemble but no less enjoyable for that.
The introduction of the trumpet to the piano and string combination by Saint-Saens was a response to a challenge presented by a group of friends with these instruments and gives a most pleasing result, fairly well followed by the modern examples. This leads to a most enjoyable listening experience in all cases.
The Enesco "Chamber Symphony" for assorted strings, woodwinds, trumpet and horn is quite different in form from the Mendelssohn and Saint-Saens offerings being, not surprisingly, much more 20th Century altogether. It is a most interesting piece repaying the effort of replaying.
The modern compositions on CD2 and CD3 may well set the pattern for chamber music to be composed in the 21st Century.Read more ›
e.g. piano, trumpet and string quintet, a combination for which Saint-Saens wrote a gorgeous piece, which appears on disc 1. Incidentally, it's a serious omission that the trumpet player has not been credited, because his contribution here, as in the other pieces he plays in, is absolutely outstanding, fabulous playing, and his name is Huw Morgan (to be fair, he is credited for other tracks).
So disc 1 contains the 'models', while discs 2 and 3 give us 17 of the 37 pieces which resulted, and it makes fascinating listening, if only to underline the huge variety of stylistic personae available to modern composers. Some amount almost to `easy listening', notably Foglie d'Autunno ('Autumn Leaves) on Disc 3, which does stand out rather uncomfortably!
There are some obvious highlights, such as the Bartok arrangements on Disc 2 by Ann-Maria Avram, which, though not 'original' compositions, are thrilling re-creations of these fabulous pieces. Another work that I really enjoyed was Skelbred's 'Echoes of Time Lost', richly but delicately scored for a diverse ensemble of flute, oboe, cor anglais, clarinet, bassoon, trumpet, violin, viola, 'cello, double bass and piano. Subtle hints of Norwegian 'fiddle' music, against a shifting background - an impression of restlessness yet immobility.
And, as in the review by Wantage, I enjoyed the sea-inspired textures and movement of 'Marritimo' by the Serbian Ivan Bozicevic.
'Odyssey' is a good title for these wonderful discs; travel and explore!