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Mohammed Fairouz (b.1985): In the Shadow of No Towers; Glass: Concerto Fantasy for 2 Timpanists & Orchestra (transcribed for wind ens.)

Album Summary

>Glass, Philip : Concerto Fantasy, for 2 timpanists & orchestra
>Fairouz, Mohammed : Symphony no 4, for trumpet & band ("In the Shadow of No Towers")
Performers Conductor Ensemble Composers

Notes & Reviews:

Philip Glass' Concerto Fantasy for Two Timpanists and Orchestra, composed in 2000 and transcribed for wind ensemble by Mark Lortz in 2004, is a significant addition to the repertoire of large-scale works for timpani. The work is rhythmically galvanizing, sonically alluring, and features virtuoso cadenzas for both soloists. Symphony No. 4 In the Shadow of No Towers is Mohammed Fairouz's first major work for wind ensemble, and its inspiration is the provocative comic book by Art Spiegelman, written shortly after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Spiegelman himself has commented: 'I'm moved by [this] scary, somber, and seriously silly symphony... I'm honored that the composer found an echo in my work that allowed him to strike a responsive chord and express his own complex responses to post 9/11 America. He emerges from the rubble with a very tony piece of high-brow cartoon music.'

American Record Guide, May/June 2014
The superb work is coupled with a wind ensemble arrangement of Glass's Concerto Fantasy for two timpanists and orchestra, which continues to strike me as a fluffy potboiler - the musical counterpart of a Michael Bay film. The excellent musicians of the wind ensemble are led expertly by Mr Popiel; I'm heartened to see that the wind ensemble repertory continues to flourish.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Lied Center of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas, USA (03/18/2013-03/21/2013).



Reviews

Sure to generate some discussion
The Philip Glass Concerto for Two Tympanists is a very engaging and interesting work that most would find "typical" Glass. His signature repeated rhythmic cells and small groups of melody with harmonies that switch just enough is what you get here. I always enjoy listening to Glass's music; having followed it for four decades now. I find it infectious and enjoyable. This particular piece may not be Glass's strongest composition even in his concerto category (I deeply love the Violin Concerto and the second Piano Concerto) None the less, this is very fun to listen to and the performance, in this case, is a wind ensemble transcription of the orchestral original by Mark Lortz. Duo tympanists Ji Hye Jung and Gwendolyn Burgett are very fine players and are supported with distinction by the members of the University of Kansas wind ensemble. I have heard this piece live once and on two other recordings and I think this version fares very well indeed; I think a case could be made that the "symphonic band" scoring works even better with the prominent tymp parts than does a string section.

Now.... THE reason to get this recording is the sprawling, attention getting, dramatic and - occasionally - shocking Symphony No.4 'In the Shadow of No Towers' by Mohammed Fairouz. Fairouz is a young New Yorker and one of the country's greatest up and coming compositional voices. He is known for writing superbly scored and relevant music; sometimes with a latent social message. I have heard many of his works and am quite impressed. In this case, this four movement work takes its inspiration not directly from the composer's own experiences with the events of "9-11-01" as the title not too subtly implies. Rather, this is Fairouz channeling his own thoughts on the fateful day but specifically as expressed in the comic art/social art of graphic artist Art Spiegelman. The four movements bear the subtitles "The New Normal", "Notes of a Heartbroken Narcissist", "One Nation Under Two Flags" and "Anniversaries". The music is ominous in places, jolting in others and, also, intermittently sarcastic and as Spiegelman himself has commented, "seriously silly... high-brow cartoon music" To add to my impression of the piece, I looked up the Spiegelman comic book of the same title. The style and tone of Spiegelman's art is indeed, an alternative view of what the event did to the country and to the world. It is controversial to be sure with its exaggerated characters and stereotyped figures. Stripped of both the overt patriotism that one might expect but also of the emotion-inducing angst of, say, John Adams' "On the Transmigration of Souls", as one example. Fairouz has created a score that does sound unusual, almost unexpected to its topic. In places, some might say, perhaps inappropriate. But here is the catch - even without the Spiegelman back-story; even without the programmatic explanation it succeeds - in a big way. This is both a stunningly effective work for large wind ensemble as well as a bold listening experience. If you have never heard Mohammed's music before; this is an ideal first exposure. Even its moments that channel minimalism make it a perfect foil for the Glass Concerto.

The Kansas ensemble under Paul Popiel plays with verve and I am right now declaring this release one of the best of Naxos' catalogue for this year!
Submitted on 11/27/13 by Dan Coombs 
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Works Details

>Glass, Philip : Concerto Fantasy, for 2 timpanists & orchestra
  • Performers: Gwendolyn Burgett (Timpani); Ji Jung (Timpani)
  • Conductor: Paul Popiel
  • Ensemble: University of Kansas Wind Ensemble
  • Notes: Lied Center of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas, USA (03/18/2013-03/21/2013)
  • Running Time: 22 min. 33 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 2000

>Fairouz, Mohammed : Symphony no 4, for trumpet & band ("In the Shadow of No Towers")
  • Performer: Janis Porietis (Trumpet)
  • Conductor: Paul Popiel
  • Ensemble: University of Kansas Wind Ensemble
  • Notes: Lied Center of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas, USA (03/18/2013-03/21/2013)
  • Running Time: 34 min. 28 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Form: Orchestral
  • Written: 2012