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Jeffrey Ryan: Fugitive Colours / Tovey, Vancouver Symphony

Album Summary

>Ryan, Jeffrey : The Linearity of Light, for orchestra
>Ryan, Jeffrey : Triple Concerto for piano, violin, cello & orchestra ("Equilateral")
>Ryan, Jeffrey : Symphony no 1 ("Fugitive Colours")
Conductor Ensembles Composer

Notes & Reviews:

Jeffrey Ryan is one of Canada's most outstanding composers. He evokes bright, vivid colors in his works which brim with imaginative sound worlds. The Linearity of Light is one such work and is concerned with imagining sound itself, brilliantly realized through different pitch combinations and their suggestions of the brightness of light. Equilateral is a triple concerto, and a spiritually complex meditation that fuses lament with joyful affirmation. Symphony No. 1: Fugitive Colors draws on the idea of colors that fade when exposed to light, and does so with masterly orchestral virtuosity.

MusicWeb International
The Symphony is even more terrific... This big, four-movement work is a cornucopia of orchestral detail and effects that never resorts to ostentation or gimmickry - often, indeed, the music is contemplative and gentle.

American Record Guide
This is some of the best new music I have reviewed in more than two decades. For the Vancouver Symphony, playing these pieces must have been rewarding. These are persuasive readings.

Ryan handles his orchestral forces well, and there are a number of interesting instrumental effects in this symphony, which (like all the music here) is played with strength and close attention to detail. But only people who know in advance of the symphony's intended connection with color will likely react to it on the basis that Ryan desires... Ryan's work is less classically poised and more emotional and meditative, its elements of lamentation and joyfulness being clearly expressed and relatively easy (and satisfying) for an audience to respond to.

Eatock Daily
... well produced and performed... the music itself... often edgy and angular, and always has a strong sense of direction... Ryan isn't shy about wearing his influences on his sleeve: Stravinsky, Bartók, Messiaen and Lutoslawski all make cameo appearances in his scores. And like all of those composers, Ryan is a master of orchestration.

Classical Music Sentinel
... the music can be appreciated with neither programme nor inference. It works very well in absolute terms, intricate and invigorating in the outstanding performances here.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Orpheum Theatre, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.


O Canada
I've long been a fan of the American Classics Series from Naxos. Over the years the series has helped to cement the reputations of great American composers, while bringing new names to the forefront. So I was excited to see the first disc in the Canadian Classics Series, complete with prominent red and white maple leaf flags. And, suitably, I'm writing this review on John A. Macdonald's birthday (he was our first Prime Minister), so you'll have to allow for a certain amount of patriotism while reading this review.

The three works on this disc were all composed by Jeffrey Ryan in the first decade of this century, and were recorded in 2008 and 2010 in Vancouver's Orpheum Theatre. In his orchestral showpiece The Linearity of Light, Ryan provides a challege to the virtuosity of the orchestra, and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra under conductor Bramwell Tovey pass with flying colours. The work comes with a program relating to the qualities and properties of light. It glitters and pulsates, and though it might seem at first superficial, it's actually quite emotional and left me strangely unsettled the first time I heard it. Subsequent listening confirms that this is more than just a piece to show off how fast or how loud an orchestra can play.

The Triple Concerto concept, taken up fairly regularly by composers in the past 200 years following Beethoven's model, creates some problems of balance for the composer, and I can imagine for recording engineers as well. Ryan's Triple Concerto, called Equilateral, gives equal weight not only to each of the soloists, but provides a balance between the piano trio and the orchestra. This creates an interesting concerto grosso texture, especially in the first movement Breathless, which is a standout, my favourite part of the disc. See the Wikipedia article on triple concertos for a list of works for piano trio & orchestra, by the way.

I know the Gryphon Trio well from their many fine chamber music recordings with Analekta. Each of the members gets his or her chance to shine: cellist Roman Borys and violinist Annalee Patipatanakoon in the 2nd movement Points of Contact, and pianist Jamie Parker in the last movement Serpentine.

The title work of the album, Fugitive Colours, is Ryan's First Symphony (though I see from the catalogue of works on his website he hasn't yet published a second.) This work also begins with visual concepts, but this time built on a symphonic frame. It's proof that the symphonic form still has plenty of life in this century.

I look forward to many, many more discs in this series, and I trust that the series will also include more from Jeffrey Ryan.
Submitted on 01/11/12 by Dean Frey 
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Works Details

>Ryan, Jeffrey : The Linearity of Light, for orchestra
  • Conductor: Bramwell Tovey
  • Ensemble: Vancouver Symphony Orchestra
  • Notes: Orpheum Theatre, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada (10/04/2008-10/06/2008)
  • Running Time: 11 min. 28 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 2003

>Ryan, Jeffrey : Triple Concerto for piano, violin, cello & orchestra ("Equilateral")
  • Conductor: Bramwell Tovey
  • Ensemble: Gryphon Trio
  • Notes: Orpheum Theatre, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada (02/02/2008-02/04/2008)
  • Running Time: 23 min. 10 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 2007

>Ryan, Jeffrey : Symphony no 1 ("Fugitive Colours")
  • Conductor: Bramwell Tovey
  • Ensemble: Vancouver Symphony Orchestra
  • Running Time: 33 min. 10 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Orchestral
  • Written: 2006