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Thomas Fortmann: Symphony No. 2 'Etruria'; Robert Nelson: Capriccio, for violin & orch.; Peter Lieuwen: Astral Blue; Percy Grainger: Lincolnshire Posy / Andrzej Grabiec, violin

Album Summary

>Fortmann, Thomas : Symphony no 2 ("Etruria")
>Nelson, Robert : Capriccio for violin & orchestra
>Lieuwen, Peter : Astral Blue, for orchestra
>Grainger, Percy : Lincolnshire Posy
Performer Conductor Ensembles Composers

Notes & Reviews:

Four major world premieres - two from American composers, one by a Swiss and one American orchestration of a Percy Grainger fantasy - includes the Second Symphony of Thomas Fortmann, inspired by the Tuscan landscape but enlivened by jazz, rock rhythms, and pastoral idylls. Peter Lieuwen and Robert Nelson's works are very much of today but speak to a wide audience and the Australian Percy Grainger's 'Lincolnshire Posy' is given an American makeover in Merlin Patterson's new orchestration. Played by the Univ. of Houston's Moores School of Music Orchestra and violinist Andrzej Grabiec (Capriccio).

American Record Guide, March/April 2016
Thomas Fortmann, a Swiss composer living in Tuscany, has the longest work. His Symphony 2, Etruria, is based on Etruscan musical philosophy and on an earlier piece for two pianos and drums. It demonstrates his ability to combine the atonal gestures of New Viennese modernism with jazzier, more audience friendly modernity. With Fortmann's crystalline orchestration we can hear different layers, some dodecophonic, others flowingly lyrical. Please skip the composer's pretentious program notes and let the music speak for itself. The first movement, full of mystery, alternates sighing violins with terse fanfares; the Animato has a jazzy snap and brio. In the slow movement a searching melody is enlivened by timpani, building to a brassy climax and a sonorous conclusion. The finale, like the opening movement, moves on different layers and allows Fortmann's obvious love of timpani-percussion its full due before dying away in a surprise ending.

Robert Nelson's Capriccio is a witty piece that alternates dreamlike fantasy and brittle fast music. Andrzej Grabiec, for whom it was written, plays it with loving precision.

As I wrote in a recent issue of ARG, Peter Lieuwen, Professor of Music and Composer in Residence at Texas A & M, writes music with clearly defined melody and jazzy syncopation. His approach is basically classical, with compact structures. His harmonies are basically modal ("pandiatonic" is his word), but full of spice. Astral Blue is typical, a nature piece with a delicate evocation of an early morning sky and stars at twilight, full of rippling minimalist rhythm and lyrical interludes.

The Moores Symphony sounds terrific - lively and youthful, but also solid and rounded. Listen to the intricate detail in the Fortmann or the brass choir in 'Lord Melbourne' from Grainger's Lincolnshire Posy, originally a wind piece, here newly transcribed by Merlin Patterson. It is smooth and theatrical. I prefer the spicier one from the Eastman Wind Ensemble on Mercury in the opening, but the later sections here profit from varied colors. The recording is full-bodied, as illustrated by the big bass drum in the finale.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: The Moores Opera House University of Houston, Houston,T (02/13/2013); The Moores Opera House University of Houston, Houston,T (02/20/2008); The Moores Opera House University of Houston, Houston,T (03/05/2009); The Moores Opera House University of Houston, Houston,T (10/28/2009).



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Works Details

>Fortmann, Thomas : Symphony no 2 ("Etruria")
  • Conductor: Franz Krager
  • Ensemble: Moores Symphony Orchestra
  • Running Time: 32 min. 26 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Form: Orchestral
  • Written: 2009

>Nelson, Robert : Capriccio for violin & orchestra
  • Performer: Andrzej Grabiec (Violin)
  • Conductor: Franz Krager
  • Running Time: 8 min. 44 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 2007

>Lieuwen, Peter : Astral Blue, for orchestra
  • Conductor: Franz Krager
  • Running Time: 11 min. 27 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Form: Orchestral
  • Written: 2006

>Grainger, Percy : Lincolnshire Posy
  • Conductor: Franz Krager
  • Notes: Composition written: 1905-37.
  • Running Time: 16 min. 33 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Written: 1905-1937