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CHATMAN, S.: Proud Music of the Storm / Over Thorns to Stars / Tara's Dream / Prairie Dawn / Crimson Dream / Fanfare for a Cold Land (Chatman)
(Centrediscs: CMCCD10304)

Reviewer: MG112085
Date Reviewed: 11/13/11
CHATMAN, S.: Proud Music of the Storm / Over Thorns to Stars / Tara's Dream / Prairie Dawn / Crimson Dream / Fanfare for a Cold Land (Chatman)

Rich diversity

I discovered Stephen Chatman on radio (where I make a lot of discoveries of composers heretofore unknown to me). I find it interesting that for a long time Americans have been insular listeners and concert-goers. We have focused on Ives, Copland and their colleagues and followers while being oblivious to a host of English-speaking composers in the UK, Canada, and Australia.

Chatman (a Canadian) deserves a lot more attention than he gets. His work is rich in imagination and diversity, and his voice is unique and distinctive. So many composers today seem to borrow from each other, copying currently popular mannerisms. Not so Chatman. He cannot be easily labeled or categorized.

I encounter so many works that I would not care to hear again, sometimes because they are too cerebral, sometimes because they are too cliched and "easy". Chatman's work is accessible without being the least slick or cheesy; they are complex and sophisticated in ways that invite further listening; and further consideration always yields new discoveries.

And, most important of all, Chatman's music is from and of the heart and body as well as the head. These pieces affect a listener's whole being, and in so many ways. I believe that is what discerning listeners yearn for, whether they know it consciously or not.

Although I like the choral work on this album a great deal, my favorite tracks are “Prairie Dawn,” “Tara's Dream,” and "Crimson Dream". The Dream tracks really do demand relistenings. He ably captures the surreal juxtapositions and weird transitions of night dreams by shifting styles and bringing in echoes of other pieces of music. “Tara's Dream” opens with a peaceful drifting, suddenly moves to overlapping disparate music (a la Ives), and then shifts to something like a Mozart piano concerto with rag-time bits and jazz sprinkled in. The piece ends as it began, in dreamy drifting. It is a very inventive and highly successful rendering in sound of a dream experience. The same can be said of "Crimson Dream", which has warped echoes of the third movement of Mahler's Second Symphony woven through it.

All in all, this is a fascinating and diverse collection of some of the best current music I’ve heard in a long time.

BARBER, S.: Adagio for Strings / DEBUSSY, C.: Clair de lune / MASCAGNI, P.: Intermezzo sinfonico (Pianissimo)Regensburg, Velten)
(Allegria: 221094)

Reviewer: SirStephen
Date Reviewed: 11/10/11
BARBER, S.: Adagio for Strings / DEBUSSY, C.: Clair de lune / MASCAGNI, P.: Intermezzo sinfonico (Pianissimo)Regensburg, Velten)

Clair de lune and much more

I watched a film on TV and it featured Clair de lune (Debussy). I knew I probably had it on CD somewhere but confess to being lazy and looked to download a version from ClassicsOnline. Using the search engine this album came up and for £4.99 I thought "why not" so very quickly bought and downloaded it.

I played Clair de lune first (brilliant) but then let the other tracks play on my laptop and I enjoyed the whole album. I am not a classical buff but I did find the recordings to be of excellent quality and there is some emotive music on this album (Barber, Mahler and Gorecki to name but three). I know nothing about the artists so I cannot comment. All I can do is highly recommend this compilation to anyone looking for great music at a value for money price. This whole album will be played many times, not just the Debussy.


RAVEL, M.: Sheherazade / MUSSORGSKY, M.: Songs and Dances of Death (Tourel, Columbia Symphony, Bernstein) (1950)
(Naxos: 9.80673)

Reviewer: NS94944
Date Reviewed: 11/05/11
RAVEL, M.: Sheherazade / MUSSORGSKY, M.: Songs and Dances of Death (Tourel, Columbia Symphony, Bernstein) (1950)

Absolutely gorgeous

Bernstein made this classic recording with the New York City pickup orchestra that called itself at various times the Columbia Symphony, or the RCA Symphony, or the Stokowski Orchestra or whatever. It included the best freelance musicians in the city, foremost among them the great oboist Robert Bloom, once the first oboist in Toscanini's NBC Symphony.

In addition to Bloom's soaring, brooding, chocolately solos, we have the added sauce of the lush sexy voice of Jennie Tourel who, unlike many others who have recorded this piece, had French as her first language. Bernstein, who was sometimes accused of going over the top, found the right vehicle for his hyperbolic gift, and couldn't keep from playing this composition with its orgiastic orchestra crescendos at full stop. Absolutely gorgeous!

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