Notes and Editorial Reviews
This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.
The Garden of Cosmic Speculation is a series of 16 short pieces divided into three parts, or suites, inspired by architect Charles Jencks' book, which in turn illustrates and describes the landscape and garden in Scotland that he designed and named after various cosmological and scientific concepts. The titles of the individual numbers say it all: Soliton Waves, Black Hole Terrace, The Quark Walk, The Universe Cascade, The Garden of the Senses Suite, The Zeroroom, Fractal Terrace, and so forth.
If this sounds a bit tortured, it really isn't, and it translates into some remarkably enjoyable music. Michael Gandolfi is at his best
when he's being light and perky, as much of this piece is. He orchestrates brilliantly and shows no lack of tuneful and appealing musical ideas. You can hear this quite clearly in the opening Zeroroom and concluding The Nonsense, but also in the baroque Garden of the Senses suite, with its scintillating Courante and vivacious Gigue. In slower music he can become somewhat static, but on the whole he has crafted a very entertaining 67 minutes of diverse and colorful pieces, and I can only applaud Robert Spano, the Atlanta Symphony, and Telarc for taking the risk of recording the whole selection, and doing it so magnificently.
Gandolfi has said that the work does not need to be played complete, but can be used to custom-assemble suites of the performers' choosing. This strikes me as a smart idea. He also has indicated that as Jencks adds to his actual garden, so Gandolfi will enlarge the work. With all due respect, I think he should quit while he's ahead. The original nifty concept can get tired pretty quickly, and it's always better to leave your listeners wanting more. Aside from the pointless addition of authentic Scottish birdsong (you can tell from the brogue, but it doesn't get in the way of the actual music), Telarc's production and engineering is exemplary in all formats. The title may confuse or suggest something silly, but this really is very good music, well worth your attention.
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
Works on This Recording
The Garden of Cosmic Speculation by Michael Gandolfi
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century
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