> BRUSA Orchestral Works 1 [KS]: Classical CD Reviews- Nov 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Elisabetta BRUSA (b. 1954)
Orchestral Works: Florestan, Messidor, La Triade, Nittemero Symphony, Fanfare
National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine/Fabio Mastrangelo
Recorded June 2001, in Kiev DDD
NAXOS 21ST CENTURY CLASSICS 8.555266 [75:37]


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When so much "new" music is merely a collection of scrapes and blats or a series of computer generated shrieks and blips, it is a completely refreshing surprise to come across a composer who can write for an orchestra with an original voice that is worth hearing. Such a voice is that of Italian born Elisabetta Brusa. Educated in Milan, London and the United States, Ms. Brusa is an inspired composer who has found some interesting things to say through the medium of the traditional orchestra.

The works presented here are on the whole satisfying. Only once, in the brief tone poem Messidor, does the composer drift off to Hollywood with some pretty clichéd gestures. Based on various images from A Midsummer Nightís Dream, this piece tends to ramble a bit, and for the most part, smacks of soundtrack music from an average drama.

Particularly fine are the tone poem Florestan, which is a reflection upon Robert Schumannís fictional alter ego, and the wonderfully colorful and well constructed Mittemero symphony. This is a work that is worthy of any orchestra, and I hope that this recording will inspire conductors to program it. La Triade, which is based on an Aesop fable, is a splendidly evocative piece of program music, telling the tale through music with pinpoint accuracy and inspiring vivid mental images of the characters and situations.

As much as I admire Naxos for presenting this music, and the music of other living composers in this series, I would be remiss if I failed to mention two nagging problems with this production. First, the maddening tendency of the winds of the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine to play out of tune is a serious drawback to these otherwise well envisioned performances. It is particularly noticeable in Messidor, but some of these performances should have never made it past the producerís ear. Second, the program notes stink. Written by the composer herself, they are nondescript and redundant. Granted, English is most likely Ms. Brusaís second language, but there are such things as editors and they should have been put to use here. Record labels really must ensure that, especially when presenting brand new music that the notes give us some valuable information about the music. Not only are these comments insubstantial, they are written on such a sophomoric level as to destroy their credibility.

The recorded sound here is excellent. I want to encourage readers to buy this disc, as there is some truly fascinating music here. I cannot, however, give an unqualified recommendation because the intonation problems are just too annoying.

Kevin Sutton

see also

Elisabetta BRUSA (born 1954) Firelights (1992/3) Adagio (1996) Wedding Song (1997) Requiescat (1994) Suite Grotesque (1986) Favole (1982/3)
National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine/Fabio Mastrangelo
Recorded: Grand Studio, National Radio Company of Ukraine, June 2001
NAXOS 8.555267 [75:44]

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