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John A. CAROLLO (b. 1954)
The Transfiguration of Giovanni Baudino
The Rhetoric and Mythos of Belief [26:17]
The Transfiguration of Giovanni Baudino [10:34]
Let Freedom Ring [6:28]
Do You Have an E.R. for Music? [8:05]
Symphony No. 2 (The Circle of Fire) [19:35]
Move Towards the Light (Your Destiny Awaits You) [6:10]
Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra/Petr Vronský
rec. 2016, Reduta Hall, Olomouc, Czech Republic
NAVONA RECORDS NV6109 [77:09]

John A. Carollo was born in Turin in 1954. He was adopted in 1959 and brought up in Pennsylvania. In 1986 he obtained a Masters Degree in Psychology from San Diego State University, and a year later began work as a mental health counsellor. He'd already done some composing, but in 1997 took it to a new level with private tuition from Dr. Robert Wehrman. He became a full-time composer in 2006, and established a music business named Musica Baudino.

The Rhetoric and Mythos of Belief, scored for strings alone, consists of five parts:
Part I - Profondo
Part II - Animato - Largo
Part III - Tranquillo - (Existential Loneliness, as a background for joy and sorrow)
Part IV - Misterioso/Meditativo (Your Heart Rests Within Mine)
Part V - Intenso

Part 1 is strongly reminiscent of Barber's Adagio. The harmonies are sparse, bare and very much pared down. The effect is spellbinding and the music emits a luminous glow. Parts 3 and 4 are likewise atmospheric pieces and summon a similar feel. To add an element of contrast, Carolla ups the pace in Part 2, incorporating some very effective contrapuntal writing. Part 5 is animated and angular. In the slow movements Petr Vronský's control of pianissimos is breathtaking, and in Part 3, especially, time almost seems to stand still.

The album takes its title from the next piece - The Transfiguration of Giovanni Baudino. I'm not sure who Giovanni Baudino is or was. I’ve read somewhere that it was the composer's own name before he was taken up for adoption by the Carollo family. We can only speculate, as he himself is not forthcoming on the subject. This is a superbly crafted score, whose winning element is the colourful and wildly imaginative orchestration. A motley range of percussion, brass and a piano are some of the sections harnessed to effect, to produce this orchestral sound spectacle. 

The Symphony No. 2 (The Circle of Fire) is cast in three movements:
I. A Recording is the Antithesis of his Aesthetic
II. Line and Polyphony
III. The Rein Which Resists Allegory Run Riot

The first movement is lightly textured. The waggish and playful narrative is all the more effective for its colourful scoring. This witty mischievousness is carried forward into the second movement. The finale is likewise humorous and light-hearted. The Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra has an infectious enthusiasm for this music, and it's hardly surprising as each instrument is offered its opportunity in the spotlight.

The opening of Let Freedom Ring has a Coplandesque spaciousness, whereas the central section reminds me of Charles Ives. The upbeat Do You Have an E.R. For Music? parades a  tongue-in-cheek humour. Move Towards the Light (Your Destiny Awaits You) ties matters up at the end with a return to the contemplative tenor of the opening work on the CD, with Carollo's diaphanous scoring emitting a luminous glow of rapt intensity.

The music on this disc is largely tonal, but powerful dissonances are also an integral part of Carollo’s arsenal. All the works have been well recorded, and the sound quality is superb. This is music, which is not only thought-provoking, but has an atmospheric potency. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Stephen Greenbank

 

 



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