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