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Orchestral Music Of Arnold Rosner Vol 1

Release Date: 11/26/2002 
Label:  Albany Records   Catalog #: 548   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Arnold Rosner
Performer:  Robert MurrayJonathan MartinGlenn Northern
Conductor:  Nicholas Palmer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Altoona Symphony OrchestraOwensboro Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 15 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

"Millennium Overture is one of Rosner’s few short, compact orchestral works, and provides an excellent introduction to his expressive realm. Commissioned by the adventurous conductor David Amos (another staunch advocate of the composer’s work) on behalf of his San Diego TICO Orchestra, the overture is actually an orchestration of the exuberant and tuneful finale of Rosner’s Cello Sonata No. 2 (1990). Despite the recycling, the work fully meets the expectations of its new role, and, unlike much of his music, it is rousing and extroverted, but not without considerable developmental activity.

The Sephardic Rhapsody (1992) is another work originally commissioned by Amos. Here Rosner ventures into the familiar “exotic ethnic
Read more rhapsody” genre, attempting to evoke the flavor of Mediterranean Jewish melos, while acknowledging that most music of the region employs similar modal features, despite the political issues that may divide its various peoples. The work follows the norms of the genre, beginning with a slow, improvisatory section, and gradually accumulating energy and speed for a dance-like finale in irregular meter. Although the rhapsody maintains a strongly Middle Eastern flavor throughout, it reveals a thorough application of the developmental processes found in most of the composer’s music.

Quite a different work is the Concerto for Two Trumpets, Strings, and Timpani, composed in 1997. Its instrumentation and quasi-neo-Classical/Baroque conception is somewhat reminiscent of Martin?, but, as stated earlier, the resemblance is superficial. Though avowedly angular and chromatic at times, to the point of near-atonality, it nevertheless also displays the archaisms that are never wholly absent from Rosner’s music. The outer movements maintain a driving, contrapuntal vigor that at times verges on the relentless, while the second movement, conceived along the lines of a passacaglia, achieves a grim eloquence.

In many ways, the most interesting music on the orchestral disc is The Tragedy of Queen Jane, the name Rosner gave to the orchestral suite he drew from his (still unperformed) opera, The Chronicle of Nine (1981), which tells the story of the nine-day reign of the ill-fated Lady Jane Grey of England. Such groups of excerpts have often served as means of introducing the music from little-known operas to a broader public—presumably with the hope that exposure to representative selections may create a demand for the entire work. Perhaps that will be the result in this case, because—more than the other orchestral music offered here—these excerpts provide a particularly revealing glimpse of Rosner’s strange stylistic juxtaposition. The first section is the “Prelude,” which sets the mood of the opera with sumptuously celestial harmony—largely triads and open-fifths—scored for strings, widely spaced, and accompanied by harp arpeggios, creating a sense of awe-inspiring serenity, abruptly interrupted by fierce neo-Renaissance episodes in the brass. This movement, it must be admitted, is a bit over-extended, continuing after the effect has been sufficiently achieved. The second section, “Masque,” is a delightful group of Elizabethan-style dances, along the lines of A Gentle Musicke, which appears on an earlier all-Rosner orchestral disc (Laurel LR-849CD). This movement could benefit from a lighter, livelier interpretive approach. The third section, “Clarion,” is an excellent example of Rosner’s subtle originality: Built upon neo-archaic fanfare-like ideas introduced by the brass, it develops a rather menacing power through unusual harmonic juxtapositions effected through pedal points. The final section, “Dirge,” will be familiar to Rosnerians, as it was included on the aforementioned Laurel disc in a performance featuring David Amos and the Jerusalem Symphony. This elegiac processional is the most striking movement of the suite, and is an excellent example of the composer’s application of a neo-archaic language, which he uses naturally and “from the inside out” to create a personal neo-Romantic expression. Palmer and the Owensboro musicians offer a performance marginally more potent than Amos’s earlier reading. This suite will certainly whet listeners’ appetites for the entire opera, as intended.

It is good to welcome the gifted conductor Nicholas Palmer to the growing list of Rosner proponents. His performances show, for the most part, a real understanding of the composer’s unusual expressive content. The past decade or two have witnessed a significant decentralization of orchestral resources from a concentration on a dozen or two “world-class” aggregations. As such ensembles become increasingly sclerotic, moribund enterprises, functioning largely as aristocratic but artistically irrelevant showpieces for the entertainment industry, truly significant musical activity has moved elsewhere, chiefly to Sweden, Finland, and the countries of Eastern Europe, where recordings of interest to those who actually listen to (as opposed to talk over) music can still afford to be made, and—thanks to the Internet—are easily accessible to the entire world. Palmer’s recording provides persuasive evidence that orchestras from America’s hinterlands—Altoona, PA, and Owensboro, KY, in this case—deserve to be taken seriously as contenders in this new 21st-century classical-music marketplace. One hopes that this pioneering effort will be rewarded and followed by other comparable ventures."

Walter Simmons, FANFARE
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Works on This Recording

Millennium Overture, Op. 112 by Arnold Rosner
Conductor:  Nicholas Palmer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Altoona Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 
Venue:  Mishler Theater, Altoona, Pennsylvania 
Length: 6 Minutes 34 Secs. 
Sephardic Rhapsody, Op. 95 by Arnold Rosner
Conductor:  Nicholas Palmer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Altoona Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 
Venue:  Mishler Theater, Altoona, Pennsylvania 
Length: 16 Minutes 15 Secs. 
Concerto for 2 Trumpets, Strings and Timpani, Op. 107 by Arnold Rosner
Performer:  Robert Murray (Trumpet), Jonathan Martin (Trumpet), Glenn Northern (Timpani)
Conductor:  Nicholas Palmer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Owensboro Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 
Venue:  RiverPark Center, Owensboro, Kentucky 
Length: 21 Minutes 48 Secs. 
Tragedy of Queen Jane, Op. 78 by Arnold Rosner
Conductor:  Nicholas Palmer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Owensboro Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 
Venue:  RiverPark Center, Owensboro, Kentucky 
Length: 30 Minutes 15 Secs. 

Sound Samples

A Millennium Overture, Op. 112
A Sephardic Rhapsody, Op. 95
Concerto for 2 Trumpets, Op. 107: I. Allegro
Concerto for 2 Trumpets, Op. 107: II. Adagio - Andantino - Lento - Largo - Grave
Concerto for 2 Trumpets, Op. 107: III. Allegro molto
Tragedy of Queen Jane, Op. 78: I. Prelude
Tragedy of Queen Jane, Op. 78: II. Masque: Intrada - Minuet - Round Dance - Reprise
Tragedy of Queen Jane, Op. 78: III. Clarion
Tragedy of Queen Jane, Op. 78: IV. Dirge

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