Yoshimatsu's Symphony No. 4 begins in a beguilingly sunny atmosphere, with bright string and woodwind textures adorning irresistibly charming melodies--a setting that brings to mind the music of Libbey Larsen. Yoshimatsu's style reflects his having come of age in the 20th century's musically pluralist environment, and its "feel good" nature would almost qualify it as "New Age Classical" if that term were not already associated with Yanni and his ilk. However, his "serious" music credentials are readily apparent in the work's solid structural underpinnings and in the refined intricacies of its harmonic language. But it's not all powdered sugar, as the music takes an inward, more reflective stance in the elegiac Adagietto (with its Messiaen-like main theme). However, the carefree mood returns in the finale to close the symphony in a gentle, glitteringly orchestrated dance.
Yoshimatsu conceived his Trombone Concerto "Orion Machine" after a vision depicting the celestial hunter Orion amusing himself with a trombone as he traveled across the skies. Ian Bousfield's stunning solo work acts as our guide as the music begins in Debussyian whole-tone harmonies before exploring many musical dimensions over its five movements. The climax comes at Bousfield's tour de force performance in the fourth movement, where he's called upon to improvise freely--and boy does he ever! He'd fit right in with the jazz greats, making sounds you probably never knew a trombone was capable of.
Atom Heart's Club is a suite for string orchestra drawn from hit tunes by the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Emerson Lake & Palmer, and Yes. Yoshimatsu's rock imitations are only intermittently successful (the last two movements sound like Leroy Anderson), but this doesn't stop conductor Sachio Fujioka from conveying a sense of fun as he leads freewheeling and high spirited performances with the BBC Philharmonic. Chandos' top drawer recording makes this disc a delight to hear.
--Victor Carr Jr, ClassicsToday.com