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Richard Danielpour (b.1956): Toward a Season of Peace, oratorio / Pacific SO & Chorale, Carl St. Clair, Hila Plitmann, soprano

Album Summary

>Danielpour, Richard : Toward a Season of Peace, oratorio for soprano, chorus & orchestra
Performer Conductor Ensemble Composer

Notes & Reviews:

One of the most sought-after and acclaimed composers of his generation, Richard Danielpour refers to himself as 'an American composer with a Middle Eastern memory.' His distinctive voice is part of a rich neo-Romantic heritage which includes composers such as Copland, Bernstein and Barber. Toward a Season of Peace is an oratorio which explores violence and war in the name of religion, using the season of spring as a metaphor for change and transformation toward songs of peace through forgiveness. Danielpour's insistence on music having 'an immediate visceral impact' can be heard throughout his oeuvre, and the beautifully translated Persian poetry and rich spirit of harmony in Toward a Season of Peace make it symbolic of a brighter future for everyone.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, Segerstrom Cen (03/22/2012-03/25/2012).


A modern masterwork
Richard Dianelpour's "Towards a Season of Peace" is an ambitious work -- and one that succeeds in that ambition. Danielpour combines texts from Jewish, Christian and Persian (Arabic) sources in his oratorio for peace. By doing so, he shows the parallels and common ground between the three major religions -- Judaism, Christianity, and Muslim -- currently at war with each other in the Middle East.

Unlike Bernstein's "Requiem Mass," Danielpour never gets preachy. He lets the inherent beauty of the poetic texts, supported by his music, speak for itself. The work is tonal and quite easy to follow -- which I suspect was Danielpour's intention. This isn't an esoteric work for the cognescenti, but rather a work that can be heard and enjoyed by a much wider audience. If you enjoy "modern" composers such as Samuel Barber, Leonard Bernstein, Benjamin Britten, or Michael Tippett, then you should find much to like in Daneilpour's composition. Not that he sounds like any of those composers, but Danielpour seems to be coming from the same place.

In the liner notes Danielpour talks about reconnecting with his Persian musical heritage, and several parts of the score reflect that, adding a verve and excitement not found in works sticking to just Western traditions.

Hila Plitmann's in fine form, letting her clear soprano voice float lightly above the orchestra in her solos. The overall performance by the Pacific Chorale, Pacific Symphony and conductor Carl St. Clair benefit from their close working relationship with the composer. This may be a world-premier recording, but the ensemble performs it as if it were a work they had been playing for years.
Submitted on 03/13/14 by RGraves321 
Thought provoking and beautiful work form this wonderful composer
Richard Danielpour communicates in a lovely, clear, tonal and often touching way through his music. His music also and often has a pan-cultural approach and he is a composer who is in touch with his own heritage, as an American born of Iranian parents. His experiences as translated through his music are also impacted by the year he spent in Iran, as a child, which he openly recalls as "unpleasant" Much like his "Darkness in the Ancient Valley", this expansive and beautiful oratorio, "Toward a Season of Peace" reflects on the sad irony that causes religion and a person's freedom to believe as they want to come into clash and result in war and tragedy. Even without the meaningful, thought provoking and sometimes breath-taking, heart stopping text with its sources in the Bible and Islamic poetry, this piece is a joy to listen to. It begins in an almost threatening way with percussion and brass sounding an undescribed assault but the tone shifts from anguish and fear to a restful acceptance as we hear the poetry of the mystic Rumi, penned by Danielpour, and sung beautifully by Richard's frequent collaborator, the amazing Hila Plitmann. There are so many highlights to this nearly hour long and beautiful work; among them the tender 'Consecration' after Isaiah and the pleading, writhing sounds of the 'Atonement' after Ecclesiastes, but sung in Aramaic. I think if I had to think about it; I favored the softer, tranquil sections of work over the more 'frantic' sections and there are moments that sound maybe a bit too directly "middle eastern" However, this is too much analysis. I am a big fan of Richard Danielpour's music. I find it all consistently interesting and wonderful in its ability to speak to almost any audience and he is one of those composers who is truly gifted at writing for a full chorus and orchestra; not an easy thing to do. This is by all accounts a moving, provocative piece of work that has moments of great beauty and leaves you feeling like you want to hear more. The Pacific Symphony and Chorale under their gifted conductor Carl St. Clair perform at their usual high quality. Many thanks to Naxos, incidentally, for having recorded this amazing group often; just an hour down the road from the powerful LA Philharmonic, this is a consistently wonderful orchestra I have heard live before. If you have never heard any of Richard Danielpour's music; I think this piece, or his Cello Concerto are great places to start!
Submitted on 03/25/14 by Dan Coombs 
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Works Details

>Danielpour, Richard : Toward a Season of Peace, oratorio for soprano, chorus & orchestra
  • Performer: Hila Plitmann (Soprano)
  • Conductor: Carl St. Clair
  • Ensemble: Pacific Chorale
  • Notes: Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Costa Mesa, California, USA (03/22/2012-03/25/2012)
  • Running Time: 49 min. 14 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Form: Cantata/Oratorio
  • Written: 2011