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Barry: Orchestral Works / Houlihan, Ireland National Symphony Orchestra


Release Date: 06/02/1998 
Label:  Marco Polo   Catalog #: 225006   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Gerald Barry
Conductor:  Robert Houlihan
Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 59 Mins. 

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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

You have been warned. Marco Polo's disc comes with a sturdy, not to say alarming, endorsement from composer Kevin Volans: "This is not music for the faint-hearted. Listen to it as loud as you dare, and then some." Indeed, my neighbours will testify that, for substantial periods, Gerald Barry steers a forceful course betweenforte andffff, most especially in the longest work here, Chevaux-dejp premiered at the 1988 Proms. The composer seizes a military metaphor to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the Armada - the title refers to a seventeenth-century anti-cavalry spike - and propels us into an almost unremitting 17 minutes of activity and alarum.

Surprisingly, given Barry's reputation for wit and ingenuity, the
Read more assorted gear-changes, rhythmic stumbles and textural fissures are less convincing than the outright brutality. This is unexpected because, as AW put it when recommending NMC's survey of the instrumental and chamber works (4/95), the distinctive thing about Barry - for all the ostensibly "rudimentary minimalist kit" - is his cultivation of "discontinuity and contradiction". In his writing for larger forces, the discontinuities can come across as contrived, the contradictions rather less arresting. Or is it simply that their execution has to be tighter than is sometimes the case in the present collection?

Flamboys is a less gory occasional piece in which the predominantly festive high jinks are prefaced by a finely shaded high bassoon and trumpet exchange. And Sur lespointes, a variant of the virtuosic piano solo of the same name on the NMC disc, offers the perfect antidote to the hyperbole of 'hard' minimalism with its equally spaced, sempre soito voce staccato chords. Admittedly, its trial-by-rhythmic unison exposes shortcomings in the National Symphony Orchestra's ensemble. But, given the demanding nature of this programme, particularly for the wind and brass, one can only sympathize with the musicians for surviving what must have been a punishing two-day recording schedule.

If in the last resort this is interesting rather than essential listening, uncommitted readers may yet be seduced by the more overt Irish dimension of Hard D.

-- Gramophone [4/1998]
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Works on This Recording

1. Of Queens' Gardens by Gerald Barry
Conductor:  Robert Houlihan
Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1986; Ireland 
2. Chevaux-de-frise by Gerald Barry
Conductor:  Robert Houlihan
Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1988; Ireland 
3. Flamboys by Gerald Barry
Conductor:  Robert Houlihan
Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Ireland 
4. Sur les pointes by Gerald Barry
Conductor:  Robert Houlihan
Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1981/1985; Ireland 
Notes: Ver: 1985 
5. Hard D by Gerald Barry
Conductor:  Robert Houlihan
Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Ireland 
6. Diner by Gerald Barry
Conductor:  Robert Houlihan
Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1988; Ireland 

Sound Samples

Of Queens' Gardens
Cheveaux-de-frise
Flamboys
Sur les pointes
Hard D
Diner

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