BOYER: Symphony No. 1 and Fanfares and Overtures – London Phil./ Boyer – Naxos

BOYER: Symphony No. 1 and Fanfares and Overtures (TrackList follows) – London Philharmonic Orchestra/ Peter Boyer – Guest Leader: Simon Blends – Naxos 8.559769 – TT: 55:14 (2/25/14) ****:

Interesting contemporary music well played and nicely recorded.

Peter Boyer is one of the most frequently performed American orchestral composers of our current milieu.  Among his notable works is his Grammy-nominated Ellis Island: The Dream of America.  About this disc, Boyer has written:“The five works included on this recording represent a cross-section of my orchestral music. Three Olympians reflects my interest in mythology and history. Often I have received invitations to compose music for celebratory concerts, and three of the works included here—Silver Fanfare, Festivities and Celebration Overture—were created for such occasions.” The disc also contains Boyer’s Symphony No. 1.

Boyer has made a career in composition, and he has been prolific in films and televisions. The fanfares that open the disc are fine, but I think musically fall into Boyer’s ‘sound’ for his radio and TV compositions.

The Symphony No. 1 is quite a bit more interesting, and is dedicated to the memory of Leonard Bernstein. The Symphony has an ‘American’ sound to it, it is a very assured composition, and the use of strings in the first of three movements, the Prelude, is striking and lovely.

The second movement, Scherzo/Dance, is a driving and intense work, well played by the London Philharmonic. The third section, Adagio, is moving, based on a single theme, and finishes the symphony on an uplifting note.  I hear echoes of Copland in Boyer’s writing, but he has his own unique style which is worth multiple listening sessions.

The disc was recorded at London’s famed Abbey Road Studios, the home to so many fine recordings for film and classical music, and the sound of the disc does not disappoint. The orchestra presents a well-etched image across the front speakers.  Boyer is an interesting composer. Like Miklos Rozsa, he straddles the world of serious music and TV and film composition, and does so successfully.

TrackList:

1. Silver Fanfare
2. Festivities
Three Olympians:
3. Apollo
4. Aphrodite
5. Ares
6. Celebration Overture
Symphony No. 1:
7. Prelude
8. Scherzo/Dance
9. Adagio

—Mel Martin

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