AUGUSTA READ THOMAS (b.1964): Radiant Circles for Orchestra, Astral Canticle for Flute, Violin and Orchestra (Jonathan Keeble [flute], Nathan Giem [violin], University of Illinois Symphony Orchestra; Donald Schleicher), Resounding Earth and Prayer - Star Dust Orbits for Percussion Quartet (Third Coast Percussion), Juggler of Day for Female Chorus (University of Illinois Women’s Glee Club; Andrea Solya), Capricci for Flute and Clarinet (Jonathan Keeble [flute], J. David Harris [clarinet]), Twilight Butterfly for Mezzo-Soprano and Piano (Yvonne Redman [mezzo], Julie Gunn [piano]), Bells Ring Summer for Solo Cello (Julian Hersh), Euterpe’s Caprice for Solo Flute (Jonathan Keeble), Pulsar for Solo Violin (Robert Waters).
Catalogue Number: 08R080
Reference: NI 6306
Description: This CD was made in conjunction with a concert celebrating the composer's fiftieth birthday. The main works are substantial large-scale orchestral pieces, though her abilities as composer of characterful miniatures is also on display. Radiant Circles is an impressive curtain-raiser, beginning with looming chords out of which bright-toned fanfares - very much a Thomas trademark - soon arise to dominate the textures, propelling the music forward with assistance from an energetic rôle for the timpani. The double concerto Astral Canticle begins with chant-like meditations by the soloists, which alternate with brilliantly scored fanfares. Gradually the soloists become more impassioned, the orchestral textures denser, though even now the upper registers predominate, the whole work seeming illuminated by an incandescent glare. Only at the end do the soloists join the full orchestra in a grand celebratory climax. Bell sounds abound in Thomas' orchestral palette; Prayer - Star Dust Orbits consists of nothing else, in a resonantly sonorous carillon of glowing sound in tribute to Berio and Boulez. The smaller works, for chorus or various solos and duos exude lively, sparking energy and a concern with radiance and the evocation of scintillating light, often combined with a humorous mischievousness that is most appealing.