THOMAS FORTMANN (b.1951): Symphony No. 2 “Etruria”, PETER LIEUWEN (b.1953): Astral Blue, ROBERT NELSON (b.1941): Capriccio for Violin and Orchestra, PERCY GRAINGER (1882-1961): Lincolnshire Posy (orch. Merlin Patterson [b.1955]).
Catalogue Number: 09R073
Reference: msv 28554
Description: The most substantial work here is Fortmann's impressive four-movement symphony, laid out along the lines of traditional form, though here used more as a template for a large-scale musical dialogue in an eclectic mixture of styles than to provide a conventional structure. Like many composers before him, Fortmann enjoys incorporating number symbolism into his music, so much of the thematic material is based on note-rows, though the composer has chosen very romantic-sounding ones, and then harmonised them in sumptuous chords based on numerically determined intervals. The first movement is brooding and mysterious, the second a galumphing scherzo, mostly significantly more tonal than the first, with a persistent percussion beat that reminds us that Fortmann had a rock career before turning to concert music; this vies for attention with brass band music transformed into a biting modern idiom (think of Havergal Brian's heavy brass fanfares). The uneasy slow movement makes an heroic attempt to be melodic, and succeeds intermittently, but dissonant harmonies and ominous funereal drums cast shadows over the proceedings. The ferociously energetic dancing finale, rhythmic and percussive, has a wild bacchanalian quality, modal inflections hinting at imaginary ancient Etruscan ritual dances seen from the perspective of the pounding dance music of our own time. Nelson's aptly named piece is indeed capricious and whimsical, with an atmospheric opening sectious, a boisterous humorous episode, lyrical interludes that could be from one of the composer's film scores, and a lively dance. The Lieuwen teems with with propulsive activity reminiscent of John Adams. The BACH motif is introduced and becomes the source of subsequent material, with a distinctly modal feel to the harmony imparting a sense of nature-music and grand open spaces. Andrzej Grabiec (violin), Moores Symphony Orchestra; Franz Anton Krager.