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Magnussen: Music For Limón Dances / Briskin, Laycock

Release Date: 07/08/2008 
Label:  Albany Records   Catalog #: 1021   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Jon Magnussen
Performer:  Sumner Thompson
Conductor:  David BriskinMark Laycock
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Juilliard Orchestra membersWestminster KantoreiPrinceton Institute for Advanced Study Festival Or,   ... 
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 1 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

MAGNUSSEN The Winged. 1 Psalms 2 David Briskin, cond; 1 Mark Laycock, cond; 2 Sumner Thompson (bar); 2 Juilliard O Members; 1 Princeton Institute for Advanced Study Festival O; 2 Fuma Sacra; Read more class="SUPER12">2 Westminster Kantorei 2 ALBANY TROY 1021 (69:57)

Jon Magnussen writes attractive, well-made music. The challenge here is to present material that was created to accompany dance and let it stand on its own. Of course, there are many great ballet scores that do just that, although it is worth noting that even the most famous dance music by Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky, and Prokofiev is far more commonly heard in the concert hall in abbreviated versions, that is, suites. There are two ballet scores here, both commissioned by the Limón Dance Company, and the first one, The Winged , is more prone being diluted by repetition and the kinds of theatrical devices that make more sense in the context of choreography, including the hackneyed use of recorded bird song. Nevertheless, there is much to enjoy here, as a result of Magnussen’s vigorous imagination and jazzy sense of rhythm. The music has a palpable narrative quality and moves along with an easily flowing momentum. As a first dance work for the composer, it is an impressive outing.

Psalms is a work inspired by the holocaust novel The Last of the Just that Limón Dance commissioned when they decided that the company could not afford the rights to use Symphony of Psalms . Stravinsky’s magnificent choral work was not written as a ballet score, but it is not difficult to imagine it as a dance piece, with its firm pulse leading the way. Magnussen sounds very much under the influence of Stravinsky in this work, which has a considerably deeper emotional resonance than The Winged . The Stravinsky fingerprint is no coincidence; Magnussen was asked to use Symphony of Psalms as a model by Limón artistic director Carla Maxwell. There are direct quotes, such as the motific Halleluiah , and Latin is used as the language of text. The pacing is broad, and the sonority is rich, enhanced by chorus ensembles and vocal solos. As with The Winged , the score for Psalms as presented here would benefit by some editing if it is to be heard as a stand-alone concert piece, but even as is, the work radiates a solemnity and wisdom that reflect the subject matter. Sound quality and performances are up to the task.

FANFARE: Peter Burwasser

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Works on This Recording

The Winged by Jon Magnussen
Conductor:  David Briskin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Juilliard Orchestra members
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1996 
Length: 37 Minutes 28 Secs. 
Psalm by Jon Magnussen
Performer:  Sumner Thompson (Baritone)
Conductor:  Mark Laycock
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Westminster Kantorei,  Princeton Institute for Advanced Study Festival Or,  Fuma Sacra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2002 
Length: 28 Minutes 17 Secs. 

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