Record companies, artists and publicists are invited to submit CDs to be considered for review. Send to: Jerry Bowles, Editor, Sequenza 21, 340 W. 57th Street, 12B, New York, NY 10019

Latest Posts

Ernst Pepping and Allan Pettersson: Moral Dilemmas in Symphonic Music
"The numbers all go to eleven. Look, right across the board, eleven, eleven, eleven and... "
Tell the Birds
Soundtrack to an Apocalypse
Feast Your Ears: New Music for Piano
Gone For Foreign
Fred Lerdahl: Time After Time
Nothing Sacred
Two From Wayne Horvitz
Two Fresh Cantaloupes

Record companies, artists and publicists are invited to submit CDs to be considered for our Editor's Pick's of the month. Send to: Jerry Bowles, Editor, Sequenza 21, 340 W. 57th Street, 12B, New York, NY 10019


Archives
Saturday, December 18, 2004 Saturday, December 25, 2004 Friday, December 31, 2004 Wednesday, January 05, 2005 Monday, January 10, 2005 Thursday, January 13, 2005 Thursday, January 20, 2005 Sunday, January 23, 2005 Monday, January 24, 2005 Saturday, January 29, 2005 Wednesday, February 02, 2005 Thursday, February 03, 2005 Monday, February 07, 2005 Tuesday, February 08, 2005 Friday, February 11, 2005 Monday, February 14, 2005 Wednesday, February 16, 2005 Tuesday, February 22, 2005 Monday, February 28, 2005 Sunday, March 06, 2005 Monday, March 07, 2005 Wednesday, March 09, 2005 Sunday, March 13, 2005 Friday, March 18, 2005 Monday, March 28, 2005 Saturday, April 02, 2005 Monday, April 11, 2005 Sunday, April 17, 2005 Tuesday, April 19, 2005 Monday, April 25, 2005 Monday, May 02, 2005 Monday, May 09, 2005 Tuesday, May 17, 2005 Tuesday, May 31, 2005 Monday, June 06, 2005 Thursday, June 16, 2005 Sunday, June 19, 2005 Sunday, July 10, 2005 Wednesday, July 13, 2005 Sunday, July 24, 2005 Friday, July 29, 2005 Monday, August 08, 2005 Monday, August 22, 2005 Wednesday, August 24, 2005 Friday, September 16, 2005 Sunday, September 25, 2005 Tuesday, October 04, 2005 Tuesday, October 18, 2005 Monday, October 24, 2005 Tuesday, November 01, 2005 Monday, November 07, 2005 Saturday, November 12, 2005 Wednesday, November 16, 2005 Tuesday, November 29, 2005 Friday, December 16, 2005 Monday, January 09, 2006 Thursday, January 12, 2006 Thursday, January 19, 2006 Tuesday, January 24, 2006 Thursday, February 02, 2006 Monday, February 13, 2006 Wednesday, February 15, 2006 Wednesday, March 01, 2006 Sunday, March 19, 2006 Sunday, March 26, 2006 Friday, March 31, 2006 Sunday, April 09, 2006 Monday, April 10, 2006 Thursday, April 20, 2006 Friday, April 21, 2006 Thursday, May 11, 2006 Thursday, May 18, 2006 Saturday, May 20, 2006 Friday, June 02, 2006 Tuesday, June 06, 2006 Friday, June 16, 2006 Monday, June 19, 2006 Sunday, June 25, 2006 Monday, June 26, 2006 Monday, July 10, 2006 Thursday, July 13, 2006 Thursday, July 20, 2006 Friday, July 21, 2006 Sunday, July 23, 2006 Thursday, August 03, 2006 Wednesday, August 09, 2006


Powered by Blogger

Tuesday, February 08, 2005
John Frandsen, Orchestral Works
Dacapo

 height=Writing something for orchestra these days is a tricky thing to do. Listeners of any stripe carry an immense bag of associations for anything using a string section, particularly if it includes a singable line and a few triads. If it doesnít sound like a Mahler symphony, it sounds like something by Stravinsky, or maybe Prokofiev, or perhaps a Wagner overture. It might even sound like John Williams. Avoiding sounding derivative is quite a feat. John Frandsen, despite his penchant for melody, has managed to pull it off. It doesnít happen immediately on Orchestral Works, his latest CD, but it does, quite beautifully, happen.

The CD opens with the three movements of the Danish composerís first and only symphony thus far, entitled ďThe Dance of the DemonsĒ and written between 1986 and 1988. Frandsenís technical facility is readily apparent in these pieces. Some nice part writing and skillful timbral blending, particularly with percussion, produce some wonderful gestures, but Frandsen falls into the orchestral pit-trap. The symphonyís gestures evoke other composers, Mahler and Stravinsky primarily, rather than coalescing. The listener is left feeling directionless, and the music is left sounding anti-climactic.

Fortunately, Frandsen remedies the stylistic vertigo in ďAt the Yellow Emperorís Time,Ē an aria from his 2003 opera I-K-O-N. The voice of soprano Djina Mai-Mai gives the composer a chance to flex his melodic muscle with extremely satisfying results. A nicely unsettled texture emerges in the orchestra before the soprano is allowed to enter with a melody thatís repetitive, but builds nicely. Mai-Mai delivers the memorable melody nicely, maintaining a direct, focused vibrato. The arch of the line drives the piece and allows the orchestra freedom to wander around Mai-Maiís voice.

The next work of the CD, the ďAmalie Suite,Ē dates from just before the symphony. It comes from Frandsenís first opera, which he wrote in 1985. Despite its chronological proximity to the symphony, this piece avoids the faults of Frandsenís symphony. Perhaps because of the pieceís smaller ensemble (decet with percussion) or shorter length, here Frandsenís skills with texture do manage to unify the piece. The suite proves quite suspenseful. Brief suggestions of resolution that are quickly pulled back into the disquiet heighten the effect.

The CDís real triumph, though, comes with the final piece, Frandsenís ďHymn to the Ice Queen,Ē a concerto for cello and orchestra from 1998. From the opening orchestral phrases, itís clear that for this piece Frandsen has chosen to invoke the Romantic tradition (predominantly the late Romantic). As the work begins, the strings suggest a fragile tranquility, and the entrances of other instruments confirm the feeling. A slow crescendo brings the mood to a head, and signals the entrance of the cellist, Svend WinslÝv. The interaction between the cello and the orchestra throughout the piece is striking, and Frandsen makes full use of the celloís range and timbre. As in ďAt the Yellow Emperorís Time,Ē the use of a dominant voice unleashes Frandsenís melodicism. The melodic lines for both the solo cello and the orchestra are often rich and chocolaty, though Frandsen provides plenty of contrast to avoid sugariness that often accompanies references to the Romantic.

Overall, Orchestral Works displays Frandsenís compositional and orchestrational skills clearly. His gift for melody and his effective use of the instruments of the orchestra are obvious. What's more, the strength of the most recent works suggests that Frandsen is already, despite the obstacles, well on the road to developing a unique and identifiable orchestral style using his talents. For this reason alone, Orchestral Works is well worth a listen.

 



Search WWWSearch www.sequenza21.com