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Marius Constant (1925-2004): Turner, Brevissima & 103 Regards dans l'eau / Olivier Charlier, violin; Riverside Symphony; Rothman

Conductor Ensemble

Notes & Reviews:

New York’s critically acclaimed Riverside Symphony delivers powerful performances of three major orchestral works by Romanian-French 20th century master Marius Constant. Under the direction of conductor George Rothman with a stunning solo appearance by French violin virtuoso Olivier Charlier (“played with suppleness and drive” - The New York Times) this Lincoln Center-based orchestra (“..awesomely assured performances” - Fanfare Magazine) performs Turner (inspired by three paintings by the English master), Brevissima (a four-movement symphony in nine minutes) and 103 Regards dans l’eau (a violin concerto based on 103 poetic reflections on water) on its seventh CD, the first on Riverside Symphony Records. Widely unknown as the composer of the famed Twilight Zone theme and Music Director for Roland Petit’s Ballets des Paris, Constant passed away 10 years ago in Paris. This collection is sure to launch an investigation into his astonishing compositional legacy.

American Record Guide, March/April 2015
Still, for all Constant's apparent skill, and for how impressive the music is. It is never boring. Mark Lehman liked Turner (Citade 88106, Sept/Oct 1995, p.247) but said about another Constant album. I enjoyed the Passacaglia from Brevissima the most, viscerally. Charlier is an exceptional violinist, and his superb playing does help Constant's cause. The performance is of the highest quality, and the sound is flattering; notes are in English and French. If you are already interested in the composer, this will be worthwhile.


"Turner is a man of air and liquid substance."
Romanian born Marius Constant (1925-2004) was active in the latter decades of the last century as a conductor, orchestrator, teacher and not insignificantly a composer. He was well regarded in Avant-Garde circles, composing thorny, intricate works fully immersed in the late 20th century vernacular and harking back to certain techniques employed by Debussy and Ravel. He is well known to the general public as the creator of the instantly recognizable 30 second main title for the iconic television series The Twilight Zone for which he never received credit. This new release on The Riverside Symphony label features 3 of Constantís orchestral works for a total of 53 minutes. The 12 minute multi-movement work inspired by the extraordinary British painter John Turner was composed in 1961. Itís the most compelling of the three and may indeed attract some peripheral interest in light of a current film starring Timothy Spall as the prescient artist. Brevissima is a 10 minute symphony utilizing a unique formal pattern devised by the composer. It dates from 1992. According to the composer, 103 Regards dans líeau from 1981 is in essence a violin concerto which traverses 103 movements within its 30 minute time scheme. Everything about this release is admirable: the playing, production, packaging as well the revelatory bonus video portrait of the composer and his aesthetic universe. The music is intense, uncompromising, often difficult to fully absorb. Whether it has staying power depends on oneís sensibilities. There are those who devour anything to do with this musical period and they will not be disappointed. Very little of Constantís work is currently available on disc. Given that fact, when a release comes along that is devoted entirely to the composerís music and is rendered with this caliber of care and respect, it should be supported. It would be interesting to hear these forces try their hand at the 24 Preludes for Orchestra. Itís the work which catapulted the composer to international prominence back in 1958.
Submitted on 01/09/15 by Allen Cohen 
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