MARK JOHN MCENCROE (b.1947): Symphonic Suites No. 1 “Just Another Medieval Tale” and No. 2 “And the Medieval Tale Continues”.
Catalogue Number: 08T064
Label: Navona Records
Description: These two full-blooded neo-romantic suites together tell an epic tale of royal courtly extravagance, the suppression and revolt of the peasants, battle, siege and hope for a new order and peace. McEncroe, with a degree of characteristically Australian self-deprecating irony, thus gives the first suite the subtitle "Just Another Mediæval Tale", which pretty much sums it up, but this is not to imply that the music is anything less than thoroughly enjoyable or lacking seriousness or craftsmanship. The suites comprise 13 movements totalling almost 90 minutes, which consist largely of memorable melodic themes 'developed' through repetition in changing orchestration, dynamics and character as though used as leitmotifs to follow individual characters through the narrative. If that sounds like cues from a film score, the work resembles nothing so much as a score from the 'golden age' of Hollywood, to accompany some swashbuckling epic with sumptuous romanticism-derived music. Like many such scores McEncroe's piece affords ample opportunity to play the "hey, that sounded just like (Schubert, Mahler, Elgar, Korngold, Moross ...)" game should you feel so inclined. The composer has a definite melodic gift, and the result is quite appealing. 2 CDs for the price of 1. Janaček Philharmonic Orchestra; Anthony Armoré.