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Joseph CURIALE (b. 1955)
Gates of Gold (1993) [19:00]
Awakening (Songs of Earth) (1995) [10:46]
Adelina de Maya (1995-6) [11:08]
The Multiples of One (1995) [5:17]
Blue Windows (2000) [7:39]
Doc Severinsen, trumpet
Bryan Pezzone, piano
Miriam Clarke, flute
Jon Clarke, oboe
Robert Becker, viola
Larry Corbett, cello
The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields/Joseph Curiale
Recorded at Abbey Road Studios London July 1995 and January, December and June 1996; Blue Moon Studios, California, June, 1996 and at Air Studio, London in June 2001.
ORCHARD ROAD RECORDS Bar code 6-3967971572-6 (No catalogue number given) [63:22]
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The wonder of the digital age is that just about anyone can produce a recording of professional quality for relatively little money and via the internet, market that recording and sell it with very little overhead.

This phenomenon has led to a burgeoning cottage industry of independently produced recordings of music that ranges in quality from absolute dreck to pretty sublime stuff. The problem for listeners is that it takes some time and patience to wade through all the offerings to discover the gems. It always gives me a great amount of satisfaction when I do find something truly worthwhile, and I am happy to announce, that although this recording has been around for a while, I have just discovered some splendid music for the first time in the works of Joseph Curiale.

It has been my experience that much contemporary music falls into two categories: academic noise and populist drivel. It seems that the days are gone when genius is inspired to create works of art that are not only masterfully crafted and original, but are also pleasing to the eye or ear. What a pleasant surprise it was then to discover the melodically prolific and architecturally skilled Mr. Curiale.

Much of the music on this disc is the by-product of real experiences, either that of the composer himself, of people close to him or of figures from history. Hence, Gates of Gold, a musical depiction of the hopes and fears of Chinese immigrants during the gold rush of the 1890s. Lush in orchestration and lyrical, Curiale combines traditional American sounds à la Aaron Copland with eastern melodic devices and traditional Chinese instruments. From these strands he weaves a beautiful emotional tapestry, artfully representing the excitement of discovering a new land, and nostalgia for a forsaken home.

Awakening is a cathartic work, a reflection on the composerís recovery from a near-death experience. Cast in three movements, the first two, Compassion and Forgiveness are serene and tranquil. Joy bursts forth with energy and excitement, hailing the dawn of a new day with its dance-like infectious rhythms.

Adelina de Maya is a deeply personal work, written in tribute to the composerís sister. The influence of Latin American music is quite evident, and the composer uses the rhythms and melodic contours of Latin music to depict his sisterís love for the region and its music.

The Multiples of One is the only chamber work on the program. Somewhat minimalistic in nature, the composer notes that the work was meant to be a mantra of sorts, a prayer of thanksgiving and celebration for the diversity of people and the variety and scope of life itself. It borders on the new-agey, but then again, I shamelessly like New Age music and the serenity and peacefulness that it promotes, so this trait was not a problem for me.

The disc contains a bonus track featuring famed trumpeter Doc Severinsen. Rather reminiscent of Coplandís Quiet City, Blue Windows was written as a showcase for Severinsenís unique and colorful playing. A compact work, it combines what is best in a number of sound-worlds to make a pleasurable, even profound, ending to a disc of extremely pleasing music.

If you are looking for the kind of raucous flailing and washes of orchestral blather that many composers are splatting across symphony halls, you wonít find that here. Neither will you find trivial populist candy. Joseph Curiale is a composer who is serious about his beliefs, deep in his thoughts and emotions and careful about what he puts down on the staff. He says what he means and means what he says, and is refreshingly unabashed about his desire to create beauty, and in his efforts to uplift the human state.

This is, quite simply put, an hour of beautiful music, beautifully played by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and others. Add this one to your collection. Sit down in some quiet place where you wonít be disturbed, and let this wash of beauty bring you a moment or two of repose.

Kevin Sutton




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