MARK JOHN MCENCROE (b.1947): Symphonic Poems - Summer’s Last Hurrah, that Old Indian Summer, Mid Autumn’s Deep Colours, Movements in the Night, An Early Autumn Morning, Deep in the Wilderness, The Passing, Echoes from a Haunted Past, A Pageant at the Country Fair, A Celebration of the Natural World.
Catalogue Number: 10U064
Label: Navona Records
Description: McEncroe is unrepentantly, even proudly (if a little defensively) conservative; he writes: "I’m interested only in creating an emotional platform. ... I want people to think & feel about the subject matter in the title. ... For me too strong melodic content is of extreme importance even if that puts me at risk of being old fashioned or being one stuck in the romantic era. I don’t write to impress people only simply to make them feel something or reflect on their own lives." These tone poems succeed admirably in these aims, on their own terms; they ably illustrate the picturesque subject matter of their evocative titles, mainly concerned with the wonders of the natural world. As we said of his orchestral suites last year (08T064) he is adept at coming up with lovely, memorable melodies which are then explored extensively in a variety of orchestral guises, whose timbral and dynamic contours and variations in accompaniment suggest a dramatic arc with little in the way of actual development. McEncroe is fond of bass lines used as varied grounds over which his melodies and harmonies progress in narrative fashion, somewhat in the manner of film music; several of the larger pieces are anchored in this way. A good deal of the success of the pieces is dependent on the skill and versatility of his collaborator; composer, arranger and orchestrator, fellow Australian Mark J Saliba, who adeptly fleshes out McEncroe's piano scores in idioms appropriate to the mood and message of the music. The results will at different times recall Brahms, Dvorak, Beethoven, occasionally Sibelius and other obvious Romantic models, and are thoroughly enjoyable. 2 CDs. Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra; Anthony Armore.