I have to confess
to not having heard of Frank Levy until
I was sent this CD. From the beginning
Iíve found listening to this well filled
disc an enjoyable experience. Striking
cover picture too "Opening" by Ulrich Osterlob who
is a new name to me. A Summer Overture begins
proceedings and unlike my colleague
David Blomenberg it did remind me a
bit of Coplandís Rodeo but not
overtly so. Itís based on the mediaeval
song much loved by madrigal singers
and choirs Sumer is icumen in,
and this has lead me to getting "Sumer
is Icumen in" Medieval English
Songs Hilliard Ensemble - Paul Hillier
Harmonia Mundi HMC 1154 which is presently
on my " to listen to" pile!
Expect a review some time before next
summer Ė I hope! The Overture is a fun
melodic piece and is very well played.
Returning to this disc after a gap I
was struck by the sound of orchestra
and melodic invention. I think it would
make a good overture at "The Last
Night of the Proms". Tremendous
percussion making cheerful noise bring
the piece to a lively climax. A great
start to the disc and a good sampler!
Cello Concerto No.
2 commences with a haunting melody on
the cello and is almost Sibelian before
the small orchestra come in. Scott Ballantyne
plays with real emotion and the orchestra
responds. The great thing is that Levy
produces melody and excitement. Nothing
overstays its welcome so that it makes
for a good listen. Thereís an elegiac
quality to the slow movement which balances
the plaintive cello with woodwinds.
I liked this piece and will be happy
Rondo Tarantella is recently composed and is quite disturbing
and restless compared to what has gone
before. Iím grateful to learn that it
has been used in Levyís opera Motherís
Day as it gave me some background
to what is going on. I found it slightly
less accessible than the first two pieces
but Iím sure repeated listening will
pay dividends. I really must praise
Naxos here because not only do they
produce first class new music for around
a £5.99 but also they give us great
notes and a web-site from which to learn
more. Both the notes and site are first
class and are much easier than those
of many other companies: Sony, DG and
most of all EMI please take note! They
even give us the web-site for the artist
on the cover!
Symphony No. 3 has
two movements. The Lento starts
with a haunting melody before developing
into variations. I found it intriguing
and as with all the music on this disc
I was struck by Levyís melodic invention.
He clearly understands the orchestra.
Compared to many modern pieces - Sir
Harrison Birtwistle et al - I
didnít wonder where the tune was or
think Iíd have to listen to it twenty
times to get whatís going on. I do feel
that it would be great to hear live
and think that some people who find
modern classical music beyond them would
warm to this. The other thing is that
there are no "long hours"
here as thereís always something developing.
The Symphonyís second movement Vivace brings this very
enjoyable selection to a conclusion. Here again Iím impressed
by mood swings Ė itís not all brightness
Ė there are shadows in the generally
Frank Levy, Naxos, the splendid RTÉ National Symphony
Orchestra of Ireland and Takuo Yuasa, not forgetting the
impressive Scott Ballantyne. More please!
David R Dunsmore
See also review
by David Blomenberg
For reviews of other releases in this series on Musicweb,
see the Naxos
American Classics page