Monday, November 10, 2014

Arnold Rosner - Orchestral Works Volume 1 - Altoona Symphony Orch., Owensboro Symphony Orch., Nicholas Palmer

I had the extreme pleasure of accompanying Rosner to Pennsylvania to watch/hear the rehearsals and also for the actual recording sessions for the first half of this disc (and I did NOT cough once!): "A Millennium Overture" op. 112 and the "Sephardic Rhapsody" op. 95. Arnold
had at the time recently had surgery and due to certain complications, his leg was extremely
swollen and the doctors advised him not to fly to Pennsylvania for the recording sessions. Thus
I was asked to do the driving from Brooklyn, New York (Rosner lived and composed in an apartment
near Brighton Beach and the bay) to Altoona, Penn. I was beyond thrilled at the prospect for such a
journey. We stayed the weekend and the rehearsals and recordings were both fantastic, and the trip was a tad surreal as, believe it or not, I hadn't ever travelled with a great composer before ;)

The "Concerto for Two Trumpets, Strings, and Timpani" composed in 1997, is a real knock-out and
in my humble opinion- it kicks some serious auditory ass. It's a quite muscular and fiery concerto that is angular and chromatic at times, to the point of near-atonality. It's instrumentation and structure is a Neo-Baroque tour-de-force. The outer movements maintain a driving, contrapuntal vigor that at times verges on the relentless, while the second movement, conceived along the lines of a passacaglia, achieves a certain grim eloquence. This, along with "The Tragedy Of Queen Jane" are my favorite
works on the disc. -Play the concerto with the volume way up!!

"The Tragedy Of Queen Jane" is an extremely beautiful work, derived from his opera "The Chronicle of Nine" (A work that *needs* a recording, it's magnificent start to finish from what I know of it).
Here's Walter Simmons's review of The Tragedy Of Queen Jane:

'In many ways, the most interesting music on the orchestral disc is The Tragedy of Queen Jane, the name Rosner gave to the orchestral suite he drew from his (still unperformed) opera, The Chronicle of Nine (1981), which tells the story of the nine-day reign of the ill-fated Lady Jane Grey of England. Such groups of excerpts have often served as means of introducing the music from little-known operas to a broader public—presumably with the hope that exposure to representative selections may create a demand for the entire work. Perhaps that will be the result in this case, because—more than the other orchestral music offered here—these excerpts provide a particularly revealing glimpse of Rosner’s strange stylistic juxtaposition. The first section is the “Prelude,” which sets the mood of the opera with sumptuously celestial harmony—largely triads and open-fifths—scored for strings, widely spaced, and accompanied by harp arpeggios, creating a sense of awe-inspiring serenity, abruptly interrupted by fierce neo-Renaissance episodes in the brass. The second section, “Masque,” is a delightful group of Elizabethan-style dances, along the lines of A Gentle Musicke, which appears on an earlier all-Rosner orchestral disc (Laurel LR-849CD). This movement could benefit from a lighter, livelier interpretive approach. The third section, “Clarion,” is an excellent example of Rosner’s subtle originality: Built upon neo-archaic fanfare-like ideas introduced by the brass, it develops a rather menacing power through unusual harmonic juxtapositions effected through pedal points. The final section, “Dirge,” will be familiar to Rosnerians, as it was included on the aforementioned Laurel disc in a performance featuring David Amos and the Jerusalem Symphony. This elegiac processional is the most striking movement of the suite, and is an excellent example of the composer’s application of a neo-archaic language, which he uses naturally and “from the inside out” to create a personal neo-Romantic expression. Palmer and the Owensboro musicians offer a performance marginally more potent than Amos’s earlier reading. This suite will certainly whet listeners’ appetites for the entire opera, as intended.'  Walter Simmons, FANFARE

"A Millennium Overture" is one of Rosner’s few short, compact orchestral works. Commissioned by the adventurous conductor David Amos (a staunch advocate of the composer’s work) on behalf of his San Diego TICO Orchestra, the overture is actually an orchestration of the exuberant and tuneful finale of Rosner’s Cello Sonata No. 2 (1990). The work fully meets the expectations of its new role, and it is rousing and extroverted, but not without considerable developmental activity.
The "Sephardic Rhapsody" is another work originally commissioned by Amos. Here Rosner ventures into the ethnic rhapsody genre, evoking the flavor of Mediterranean Jewish Melos, while acknowledging that most music of the region employs similar modal features, despite the political issues that may divide its various peoples. The work follows the norms of the genre, beginning with a slow, improvisatory section, and gradually accumulating energy and speed for a dance-like finale in irregular meter. Although the rhapsody maintains a strongly Middle Eastern flavor throughout, it reveals a thorough application of the developmental processes found in most of the composer’s music.

Track list:

1)A Millennium Overture, op. 112 [6:34]

2)A Sephardic Rhapsody, op. 95 [16:15]

(Altoona Symphony Orchestra, Nicholas Palmer, tracks 1-2)

Concerto for Two Trumpets, Strings and Timpani, op. 107
3)Allegro [6:49]
4)Adagio-Andantino-Lento-Largo-Grave [7:08]
5)Allegro molto [7:51]

The Tragedy Of Queen Jane, op. 78
6)Prelude [8:00]
7)Masque (Intrada-Minuet-Round Dance-Reprise) [9:51]
8)Clarion [6:18]
9Dirge [6:06]

(Owensboro Symphony Orchestra, Nicholas Palmer, tracks 3-9)

*As always, I would *really* appreciate hearing from many of you about what you think
of Rosner's music. Comments in general are a constant motivation...        Enjoy!


Anonymous said...

The concerto for two trumpets is wonderful. Thank you for sharing this lovely music with us!

Anonymous said...

Thanks buddy!

I will download and try to find time to comment on the music! Keep posting your wonderful shares!


Anonymous said...

Some of the most beautiful music I've heard. Excellent disc. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Muchas gracias.

Tzadik said...

Hi anon #1, happy you agree, the Concerto packs such an emotional punch I think. It's such damn exciting music!

Tzadik said...

Greetings Piterets! I'm curious to know what you think of the entire program here. The Concerto is imo magnificent and "The Tragedy of Queen Jane" simply gorgeous. Tz

Tzadik said...

Anon #2 thanks for the comment, I'm very happy exposing people to Rosner's music. I find his music to be some of the most beautiful as well; since I first discovered it years ago it has always "agreed" with me like almost nothing else out there..

Tzadik said...

Anon #3 you are welcome! ~saludos