DANIEL CROZIER (b.1965): Symphony No. 1 “Triptych for Orchestra” (Seattle Symphony Orchestra; Gerard Schwarz), Ballade: A Tale After the Brothers Grimm (Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra; Stanislav Vavřínek.
Catalogue Number: 01T009
Label: Navona Records
Description: Crozier's Symphony No.1 is a large, three-movement structure cast firmly in the neo-Romantic mold, thoroughly tonal and harmonically and texturally sumptuous. Although undeniably symphonic, the composer's theories of the capability of instrumental music to carry on a narrative, with themes and motifs playing the part of 'characters' - something that any self-respecting Romantic, and especially Richard Strauss, would recognise. Thus the triptych of subtitled movements may also be viewed as quasi-programmatic tone poems. The first movement, 'Ceremonies', begins with muted fanfare-like figures (these recur throughout the symphony, providing structural continuity), which vie for dominance in a shadowy landscape filled with memories of sad songs. Attempts at livelier, lighter textures quickly fail, and the atmosphere of the dark, Sibelian forests reasserts itself. The central scherzo, "Capriccio" was apparently described by composer Paul Moravec as “good cartoon music", which Crozier seems to have taken as a compliment as he quotes it in his program note, but this undervalues it; it has more in common with Prokofiev, Shostakovich or neoclassical Stravinsky in lighter mood, or maybe George Lloyd, or in one frenetic passage, Constant Lambert's "King Pest". The finale, based on a Norwegian folk tale with some distinctly dark elements, is a predominantly slow movement of considerable gravitas and a powerful sense of dramatic narrative. The Ballade is a similar, independent tone poem. Three distinct theme-characters go through a variety of adventures; no specific fairy tale is referenced, but there are some sinister episodes, some that are atmospheric and mysterious, more than a hint of The Sorcerer's Apprentice, and a rousing slapstick finale.