- 14 February, 2008
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NAXOS WIND BAND CLASSICS
Bizet/Serebrier: CARMEN SYMPHONY
Ginastera; Villa-Lobos; Revueltas; Serebrier
“The President’s Own” Marine Band/José Serebrier
Recorded in 2007, this live performance of “The President’s Own” Marine Band is led by GRAMMY-winning conductor-composer José Serebrier, who recently was nominated (along with and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra) for a Best Orchestral Performance nomination for his Naxos recording of Shostakovich’s The Golden Age.
Having orchestrated Gershwin’s piano works (at the request of the composer’s family), numerous Grieg songs, and, more recently, a symphonic synthesis of Janácek’s The Makropulos Case, Serebrier compiled a sequence of orchestral interludes from Bizet’s Carmen to extend its magic to the concert hall. Carmen Symphony—unlike the well-known Carmen Suites—follows the thread of the opera.
José Serebrier has always been fascinated by the music of Mexican composer Silvestre Revueltas, and this Mexican Dance is his homage to this imaginative composer. Mexican Dance and Serebrier’s own Night Cry are world-premiere recordings. Alberto Ginastera’s Estancia Suite, Op. 8a and a rousing encore performance of
John Philip Sousa’s The Stars and Stripes Forever round out this disc.
The United States Marine Band was established by an Act of Congress in 1798 and is America’s oldest professional musical organization. Members of “The President’s Own” are active duty members of the United States Marine Corps who enlist under a contract of service with the Marine Band only.
Mark-Anthony TURNAGE: Twice Through the Heart; Hidden Love Song;
The Torn Fields;
Marin Alsop, conductor; London Philharmonic Orchestra; Sarah Connolly, mezzo-soprano; Gerald Finley, baritone; Martin Robertson, soprano saxophone
Three works by the London Philharmonic Orchestra’s Composer-in-Residence Mark-Anthony Turnage offer strikingly different glimpses of the human interface: a chilling first-person account of marital murder, a touchingly titled musical gift, and an acerbic view of the destruction of war. Marin Alsop – renowned conductor, Naxos recording artist, and Music Director of the Baltimore Symphony – captures the emotions and drama of the work.
Born in 1960, Mark-Anthony Turnage’s teachers included Oliver Knussen, John Lambert, and Gunther Schuller. His unique sound-world is influenced by jazz composers like Miles Davis (his penchant for wind instruments is well-known, and many of his orchestral scores feature saxophone) as well as the music of Stravinsky, Bartók, Britten, Tippett, and Vaughn Williams (an early influence). Turnage’s many works include the powerful Blood on the Floor, Three Screaming Popes, Kai, Momentum, Drowned Out, Scorched, Scherzoid (commissioned by the LPO and New York Philharmonic), and the operas Greek and The Silver Tassie. In addition to his residency with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Turnage was appointed Mead Composer-in-Residence with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, 2006-2008.
Turnage has never been afraid to confront social issues: he came from a modest background and lost his younger brother Andy to drugs. Twice Through the Heart (1997) is set to a text by Jackie Kay and tells the story of a woman who stabbed her husband with a kitchen knife after years of physical and emotional abuse. Turnage commented in 1997 that writing this piece was “more difficult than anything else I’ve done.”
Kay, who met the subject of her text while doing education work in prison, was profiled in a BBC film about her poetry – which Turnage saw. The composer himself had experience working with prisoners: “I’d done education work with prisoners, particularly lifers [prisoners serving life sentences] and felt great empathy with them, as well as an attraction to the solitude.”
Initially, the work was conceived as an opera, but Turnage and Ms. Kay later realized that the “strength lay in the poetry, and so it became a ‘dramatic scena,’ from the woman’s point of view.” Twice Through the Heart features mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly, who recently received a GRAMMY nomination for her Naxos recording of Elgar’s Sea Pictures (8557710).
Turnage composed Hidden Love Song for soprano saxophone (2005) when he became the London Philharmonic Orchestra’s Composer-in-Residence. It is a brief ‘song’ for soprano saxophone and chamber orchestra with harpsichord. It was the first collaboration of his residency, commissioned by the Orchestra with Norwegian and German partners. The work was written for both the soloist on this recording, Martin Robertson, and Turnage’s wife (then fiancée), Gabriella Swallow.
The disc’s final offering, The Torn Fields, features superb Canadian baritone Gerald Finley. The cycle consists of five First World War poems written by Rudyard Kipling, Isaac Rosenberg, Wilfred Owen, Charles Sorley, and Siegfried Sassoon “that savagely attack the sweeping loss of war, often spiked with acerbic, critical humor.”