Notes and Editorial Reviews
On the face of it, this is not a release that will have eager
punters thronging the streets or queuing round the block to
get their hands on a copy. Four relatively unknown American
composers, small-name orchestras and conductors - even though
the label claims "the finest musicians and orchestras in the
world, handpicked" - and a menu of works with titles like Transliminal
Music, Polychrome and TransActions. All that
packaged on a CD that seems to provide no information at all
about the composers - not even their birth years - and nothing
about the music.
But all is not lost. Despite initial appearances to the contrary,
this is in fact an "enhanced CD", which means it needs to go
into a computer in order for the listener to access "exclusive
interactive multimedia content" - basic information, in old
money. In fairness, the CD-ROM does let you see the scores of
each of the works - though a magnifying glass will come in handy
- as well as the liner-notes. Great for those listening on their
computers, not so good for those who prefer something less modern
like a hi-fi. For good measure, the electronic booklet also
gives access to computer desktop wallpaper - the same pattern
as on the CD cover, no less - and, in what is quite possibly
a first, a choice of Polychrome or TransActions
ringtones! For some unexplained reason there is also a written
tribute to Mosko's wife, the flautist Dorothy Stone, who died
On the other hand, even with all that additional virtual space,
neither Sullivan's nor Crozier's birth years are given. A quick
internet search reveals only that this is a different Tim Sullivan
to the Canadian composer born in 1954! Nor are there any notes
on the first piece, Transliminal Music, one of only three
orchestral works written by Stephen Mosko, who, until his early
death in 2005, probably had the highest profile of the four
featured composers. As the longest and most modernistic work
on the disc, this is a very odd choice for track one. Only those
with considerable exposure to, say, the avant-gardism of 1970s
Germany are likely to find this anything other than longwinded
The remaining works are more accessible, though to varying degrees.
Writing about Polychrome, Tim Sullivan explains that
he has been "attempting to create music that finds a balance
between experimentalism and accessibility." Polychrome
succeeds in this to a significant extent, as did Alfred Schnittke,
with whose music Sullivan reveals a fascination. This is a complex,
dramatic, often violent, percussive work - jazz drumming is
also a hobby of Sullivan's, and he slips in the odd bit of it
here and there, though in a tasteful enough way - and perhaps
therefore not instantly memorable, but there are also passages
of reflection and calmness, and the piece ends peacefully.
Originally written as a third movement to an as yet unrealised
symphony, Daniel Crozier's Fairy Tale is tonal, nostalgic,
often lush, almost late-Romantic - not surprisingly somewhat
reminiscent of Richard Strauss - and therefore likely to appeal
to a wider audience. Crozier writes that it might be thought
of as "an opera scene without words", and there is no denying
its narrative feel.
The final work on the disc is also the shortest, and the oldest,
dating back to 1980 - in fact, by 21st century standards, it
hardly counts as modern! Michael Cunningham's TransActions
is a bustling, restless piece, but not without merit. It ends
suddenly, almost as if the last page of the score had been lost.
There is a prominent role for solo violin, though in no other
way does it resemble a concerto. According to Cunningham, the
title suggests "actions, gestures and lines on one orchestral
level bringing about reactions on other levels."
In all four works the music presents numerous and various challenges
for orchestras and conductors, but in each case these are more
than adequately met. The sound quality is immaculate. At sixty
minutes the disc could have been longer, but overall this is
a moderately appealing way to explore the generally more tonality-based
end of late 20th century American music.
-- Byzantion, MusicWeb International Read less
Works on This Recording
Transliminal Music, for orchestra by Stephen L. Mosko
Date of Recording: 05/2007
Venue: Bratislava, Slovak Republic
Length: 23 Minutes 6 Secs.
Polychrome, for orchestra by Timothy D. Sullivan
Date of Recording: 11/2009
Venue: Olomouc, Czech Republic
Length: 13 Minutes 54 Secs.
Fairy Tale, for orchestra by Daniel Crozier
Date of Recording: 09/2007
Venue: Seattle, Washington, USA
Length: 14 Minutes 26 Secs.
TransActions, for orchestra by Michael G. Cunningham
Date of Recording: 03/2010
Venue: Moscow, Russia
Length: 7 Minutes 59 Secs.
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