I bought this disc as a result of a few favourable reviews published in national newspapers and I'm glad I did. Lover's like me of late Romantic music - from Mahler, Stravinsky, Legeti and Strauss onwards will readily appreciate how composer Julian Anderson moulds the rich musical vocabulary and syntax at his disposal into forms that are at once austerely beautiful, intense and almost puckish on occasion. The music may be grand and forbidding at first hearing but as works like `The Crazed Moon' and `Fantasias' demonstrate, Anderson allows the listener a way in. Moods change, thunderous trumpet blats come and go and piercing string motifs sound out but beneath it all there is dramatic tension,rhythmic incident and melody aplenty to sustain interest.
I am no music critic but I can hear adventurous composition and engagement from an orchestra and conductor when I hear it. And hear it I do on this disc, with exciting performance, taut direction and a deep understanding of the composers intentions by orchestra and conductor.Add in comprehensive sleevenotes and outstanding recorded sound and you have a very desirable disc indeed. Recommended.
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.
New British orchestral works! Bought it without listening to any samples and the gamble paid off. Superbly recorded disc of vibrant new works by Anderson. The music is brassy and sparkling. After a couple of hearings you can hear the Tippet and Stravinsky influences coming out. Good to see new orchestral works being released on disc. More please!