ARNOLD ROSNER Orchestral Music, Volume Four. ARNOLD ROSNER (1945–2013) : Scherzo for Orchestra, Op. 29a (1964) ; Concerto Grosso No. 2, Op. 74 (1979) ; Variations on a Theme by Frank Martin, Op. 105 (1996) ; A My Lai Elegy, Op. 51 (1971; rev. 1993). London Philharmonic Orchestra; Paul Beniston, trumpet; Nick Palmer, conductor.

Catalogue Number: 04Z019

Label: Toccata Classics

Reference: TOCC0710

Format: CD

Price: $20.98

Description: The musical language of the New York-based Arnold Rosner (1945–2013) clothes the modal harmony and rhythm of pre-Baroque polyphony in rich Romantic colours, producing a style that is instantly recognisable and immediately appealing. This fourth Toccata Classics album of his orchestral music opens with an engaging and energetic early Scherzo and a Concerto Grosso that has something of the dignified reserve of the Swiss composer Frank Martin, whom Rosner much admired – as the broadly expressive Variations on a Theme by Frank Martin go on to show. Rosner’s A Mylai Elegy, a symphonic poem inspired by a massacre of civilians in Vietnam, has few equals in the orchestral repertoire: it veers from profound sadness to wild, freewheeling anger – protest music at its grandest and most passionate. During his fifty-year career, the American composer Arnold Rosner produced a body of work that combined diverse influences into a powerful, distinctly personal musical voice. His catalogue comprises compositions in nearly every genre, including three operas, eight symphonies, numerous works for orchestra and wind band, several large-scale choral works and many chamber, solo and vocal pieces. Rosner’s musical language was founded upon the harmonic and rhythmic devices of the polyphonic music of the Renaissance and early Baroque periods. These roots can be found, to varying degrees, in virtually all his music. To them he added a free triadicism and exotic modalities, intensified in some works by more contemporary harmonic dissonance, imbuing this language with the lavish orchestration and emotional drama of turn-of-the-twentieth-century Romanticism. What makes Rosner’s music worthy of serious consideration, rather than being merely an integration of earlier styles, is the way he shaped his unusual language to embrace an enormous expressive range – far broader than one might imagine possible – from serene beauty to violent rage, and indeed this album illustrates the vast range of expression found in Rosner’s music: the Scherzo, written when the composer was nineteen, represents his early style, before he had any significant formal study of composition; the Concerto Grosso No. 2 exemplifies his approach to Neo-Classicism; the Variations on a Theme by Frank Martin provide both a homage to a composer Rosner admired deeply and one of the few examples of his treatment of variation form; and A My Lai Elegy expresses both rage at the senselessly cruel violence of the incident commemorated and hope that humanity will find a way to rise above such brutality. Yet despite this wider variety of stylistic approaches the music is readily accessible even to untutored listeners. (From the booklet notes by Walter Simmons)


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