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Dinos CONSTANTINIDES (b. 1929)
Celestial Symphony No. 6 [24:33]
Concerto for alto saxophone and chamber orchestra - Midnight Fantasy II (1989, rev. 1991) [16:57]
Concerto No. 3 for alto saxophone and orchestra [14:17]
Homage - A Folk Concerto for alto saxophone and orchestra (1988) [17:19]
Theodore Kerkezos (alto saxophone)
Nürnberger Symphoniker/Stefanos Tsialis
rec. 2005, Nürnberger Symphoniker Hall. DDD
CENTAUR CRC 2871 [71:06]

Experience Classicsonline

I knew the name but this disc was the first time I had actually heard the music of this Greek composer. Much of his life has been spent in the USA. He is Boyd Professor and Coordinator of Composition at the School of Music at Louisiana State University. There are six symphonies, two operas (Intimations and Antigone) among some 230 compositions. He has been championed by Nancy Van de Vate’s Vienna Modern Masters label: VMM3009 Composition for String Orchestra (1968); VMM3039 Concerto for Orchestra (1997); VMM3004 Dedications for Strings (1974); VMM3003 Midnight Fantasy (1989); VMM3051 Millennium Festival Overture (2000); VMM3007 Symphony No. 2 and VMM3035 Symphony No. 5 (1996).

His latest symphony is included here. Its dedication is to ‘all Earth’s good people’ and is said to be based on the circular motion of the Zodiac. This is determinedly tonal music in which the lyric voice holds sway. It moves in similar circles to those of Vaughan Williams and Roy Harris – with a little Hovhaness along the way. The symphony is quite striking in its peaceful yet awed atmosphere and this is to be heard in the matte drum-beat and slowly unwinding cor anglais melody of the middle movement: Star Song – Earth. The rustling undergrowth of the finale is redolent of the start of Martinů’s Sixth Symphony with mildly dissonant interpolations from brass and percussion. The picture overall is one of an elevated Utopia bathed in a seraphic light.

Then come three works for alto saxophone. The Midnight Fantasy II for alto and chamber orchestra is a suave nocturnal mystery of a piece in which the singer is the often meditative soloist against a backdrop of gentle wispy dissonance which rises to occasional assertive statement. Concerto No. 3 is in four movements. The Prologue is a Gallic chatter with the soloist pecking quickly at the fate motif from Beethoven’s Fifth before settling back into a romantic musing half way between Rota and Pettersson. The Beethoven reference returns for the Swift movement which takes singing flight. Tranquil casts admiring parodic glances at Mozart. In the finale the Beethoven fragment re-appears amid a misty-eyed and highly adept collage of naggingly familiar material. The extremely engaging Folk Concerto is in two movements. Its first movement is in a cantabile folk-romantic idiom. It has the same seraphic bearing as the Sixth Symphony and is occasionally redolent of the sun-drenched dazzle of Nielsen’s Helios Overture. The dance-inflected finale will recall in softened language the orchestral dances of Skalkottas (Christodoulou; Fidetzis)

The performances appear highly professional and are luminously recorded. Apart from a seeming diffidence about dates the notes are useful even if the composer’s input resorts to the usual rather opaque CV style.

This is music that is seraphic, peaceful and awed yet dance also plays its part. If you are anything like me you will certainly want to hear more.

Rob Barnett





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