Fanfare reviews Eric Sawyer: Our American Cousin

This is a wonderful surprise. When the Editor proposed the disc, from the title I suspected it would be about the Lincoln assassination, as Our American Cousin was the name of the play performed that evening in Ford’s Theater. But I did not know the composer, Eric Sawyer (b. 1962), nor his librettist John Shoptaw, and knew nothing of this opera, which is truly “hot off the press,” having been premiered in Boston just last year.

Media Date 
November 1, 2008
Media Source 
Fanfare
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Media Quote 

Again, outstanding performances by BMOP. This comes with a very high recommendation to a wide audience.

Media Contact Name 
Robert Carl

Fanfare reviews Lee Hyla: Lives of the Saints

Lee Hyla (b. 1955) writes a muscular music that is deeply rooted in classical practice, but also owes a lot to more roughhewn influences: to my ear, at least, the strongest is progressive/free jazz. In an interesting way, he’s found a way to do what many composers have attempted but failed at—to produce a genuinely American form of Expressionism, freed from the trappings of fin de siecle Vienna.

Media Date 
November 1, 2008
Media Source 
Fanfare
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Media Quote 

Special praise to Nessinger, who is a singer to die for. Not only does she have the technique to handle the often-ferocious demands of this music, but also her dramatic skills are superlative.

Media Contact Name 
Robert Carl

Fanfare reviews Gunther Schuller: Journey Into Jazz

Gunther Schuller is not merely an award-winning composer, former principal horn of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, retired artistic director of the Tanglewood Music Festival, and member of the American Classical Music Hall of Fame, he also wrote the book on jazz. Two books actually, Early Jazz and The Swing Era (both Oxford University Press), and over a long and acclaimed career he has collaborated with or performed music by such distinctive jazz artists as Miles Davis, Charles Mingus, Ornette Coleman, Bill Evans, and the Modern Jazz Quartet, among many others.

Media Date 
November 1, 2008
Media Source 
Fanfare
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Media Quote 

These works show Schuller to be a skillful and modest composer when working with larger forces—he orchestrates with a light hand, never overwhelming the concertante improvising soloists, nor exploding into neo-Kenton bombast.

Media Contact Name 
Art Lange

Fanfare reviews Charles Fussell: Wilde

These two orchestral works by Charles Fussell are new to me, as is his music in general. Wilde, Symphony for Baritone and Orchestra, was runner-up for the 1991 Pulitzer Prize, a surprise not because of its merits or lack thereof, but because the style is not typical of most contenders from that era. Since the track record of Pulitzer decisions is decidedly mixed, runner-up status is considered a badge of honor among some new music aficionados.

Media Date 
February 27, 2009
Media Source 
Fanfare
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Media Quote 

Charles Fussell: Wilde suggests a synthesis of mid-20th-century American harmonic materials with 19th-century European formal constructions.

Media Contact Name 
Michael Cameron

Fanfare reviews BMOP's Release, Erickson: Auroras (New World)

In Fanfare (31:2), I reviewed a Naxos release of chamber music by Robert Erickson (1917-1997), a California-based avant-garde composer and respected teacher. I found the music on that disc uncompelling, with the glowing exception of a late work for piano and chamber ensemble, Recent Impressions. In it, Erickson’s obsessions with sonority, Asian music, Schoenbergian Klangfarbenmelodie, and Cage-like purity came together to produce something quite individual.

Media Date 
February 27, 2009
Media Source 
Fanfare
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Media Quote 

This is unquestionably the kind of music that draws you in and eventually grows on you.

Media Contact Name 
Phillip Scott

The Classical Voice of New England reviews Derek Bermel: Voices

To count up the musical influences in the works on Derek Bermel’s new album, Voices, featuring the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, would prove impossible. He is a composer as comfortable mixing jazzy trombone riffs with plunky, Asian harp-piano duets, as with combining eerie portamento violins and Stravinsky-like primitive rhythms. To say that Bermel’s music is adventurous would be an understatement.

Media Date 
March 2, 2009
Media Source 
The Classical Voice of New England
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Voices is fun in a way classical music often is not. I laughed out loud and did not feel the least bit sorry for it.

Media Contact Name 
Emily Parkhurst

American Record Guide reviews Lukas Foss: The Prairie

I find it astonishing that this delicious oratorio hasn’t been performed or recorded much. It’s every bit a crowd-pleasure and very much in the tradition of middle-American composers of the 20s, 30s, and 40s, such as Roy Harris, Howard Hanson, and Aaron Copland. Lukas Foss was born in Berlin in 1923, then moved to Philadelphia as omens of war threatened Europe. He moved to American and studied with Sergei Koussevitzky for several years before attending Yale, where he studied with Paul Hindemith.

Media Date 
March 13, 2009
Media Source 
American Record Guide
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Media Quote 

Sound is terrific: clear and sharp, with just the right depth. This work and this recording belong in any decent library of 20th Century music.

Media Contact Name 
Paul Cook

The San Francisco Chronicle reviews Derek Bermel: Voices

In listening to this magnificent collection of orchestral pieces by the Brooklyn composer and clarinetist Derek Bermel, it’s difficult to know whether to be more knocked out by his stylistic versatility or his technical prowess. I’ll settle for both. Bermel’s music is intricate, witty, clear-spoken, tender and extraordinarily beautiful. It also covers an amazing amount of ground, from the West African rhythms of Dust Dances to the Bulgarian folk strains of Thracian Echoes to the shimmering harmonic splendor of Elixir.

Media Date 
March 22, 2009
Media Source 
The San Francisco Chronicle
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Media Quote 

In listening to this magnificent collection of orchestral pieces by Bermel, it's difficult to know whether to be more knocked out by his stylistic versatility or his technical prowess.

Media Contact Name 
Joshua Kosman

NewMusicBox reviews David Rakowski: Winged Contraption

About a year and half ago, we did a NewMusicBox cover on David Rakowski, in preparation for which I studied his then 80 solo piano etudes and became a hardcore devotee. These quirky pieces are a rare breed—they’re pithy and some are even hysterically funny, no small feat to accomplish in the abstract, non-representational medium of music. As a result, pianists flock to them, and they are fast becoming staples of the contemporary solo piano repertoire. But all through our talk, David insisted that he’s more than “the piano etude guy”.

Media Date 
March 23, 2009
Media Source 
NewMusicBox
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Media Quote 

All in all, the disc provides a much needed window into Rakowski's music beyond the piano etudes.

Media Contact Name 
Frank J. Oteri

International Record Review reviews Lukas Foss: The Prairie

The booklet informs us, ‘Lukas Foss, b. 1922’, but sadly, Foss passed away on February 1st of this year. So, a release which surely would have brought renewed attention to a worthwhile American composer now also must serve as a memorial.

Media Date 
April 6, 2009
Media Source 
International Record Review
Media 
Media Quote 

A release which surely would have brought renewed attention to a worthwhile American composer now also must serve as a memorial.

Media Contact Name 
Raymond S. Tuttle

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