Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

North/South Recordings

Millennium Overture
Music by American Composers
Randall SNYDER (b.1944)

Fictions (1999)a
Hilary TANN (b.1947)

Nothing Forgotten (1997)b
Allan CROSSMAN (b.1942)

millennium Overture dance (1999)c
Sarah MENEELY-KYDER (b.1949)

Letter from Italy, 1944 (1997)d
Virgil THOMSON (1896 – 1989)

Sonata da Chiesa (1926)e
Chai-lun Yueh (baritone)d; The North/South Consonance Ensemble; Max Lifchitz (pianob and conductorace)
Recorded: Recital Hall of the Performing Arts Centre of Purchase College, September 2001


Snyder’s Fictions, completed in 1999 and scored for chamber ensemble (woodwind quartet, trumpet, horn, percussion and string trio), is a concerto for ensemble in all but name. Its twenty-five short sections, of which the opening one Veiled recurs later as a ritornello, display a wide variety of moods in a colourful kaleidoscopic manner. A brilliant, often virtuosic showcase for ensemble.

British-born Hilary Tann composed her piano trio Nothing Forgotten for the Adirondack Ensemble who gave the first performance in 1997. Inspired by a long poem by Jordan Smith, its three movements (Andante maestoso – Allegretto – Andante recitativo) playing without a break bear a superscription (or subtitle) also taken from Smith’s poem and quote from two traditional Adirondack songs. This is another attractive work by a composer who is still shamefully under-represented in the current catalogue. I hope that the present recording of this beautiful, lyrical work will soon prompt new recordings of her music. One of the most attractive and endearing works in this release, as far as I am concerned.

millennium Overture Dance by Allan Crossman, scored for flute, clarinet, violin, viola and cello, sets out as a jolly celebratory piece with a pensive middle section "reflecting on the darker events at the turn of the new century". It nevertheless ends in high spirits.

Sarah Meneely-Kyder, as well as Allan Crossman, is a name new to me. Her Letter from Italy, 1944 – for baritone and string quartet – was written at the request of Chai-lun Yueh. It sets a poem written by the composer’s sister, itself based on excerpts from diaries and letters written by their father during his years of service as an Army doctor during World War II. This often gripping and moving work is the more poignant for its chamber setting infusing it with sorrowful, sometimes bittersweet intimacy.

The final work in this worthwhile release is a real rarity by the veteran composer Virgil Thomson. His Sonata da Chiesa, completed in 1926 and scored for rather unusual instrumental forces (viola, clarinet, trumpet, horn and trombone) is one of his earliest acknowledged pieces. It is in three movements: Chorale, Tango and Fugue. The first movement already displays Thomson’s liking of old, simple hymn tunes (think of his Symphony on a Hymn Tune composed two years later), whereas Tango – no doubt – partake to the spirit of Les Six. The concluding fugue is a brilliant piece of formal mastery. At times, the music may be redolent of the harmonic and rhythmic world of Stravinsky; but it is quite effective in its handling of an avowedly disparate instrumental setting. A most welcome rarity by all counts and one that will take many Thomson fans by surprise.

This is yet another typical North/South release bringing together worthwhile, mostly unfamiliar music in excellent, carefully prepared and committed performances. Well worth having.

Hubert Culot


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