Mark John McEnroe: My Symphonic Poems – The Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra/ Anthony Armore, conductor – 2 CD set, Navona Records Catalog #: NV6189 (10/12/18) All tracks recorded between 2016 & 2018 in Ostrava, Czech Republic ****:

MY SYMPHONIC POEMS, is a two-disc album that is Mark John McEncroe’s fourth recording for Navona Records. The Australian composer explores worlds both internal and external. On each of the album’s ten tracks, McEncroe has given us a musical painting, a work of art that describes, as it were, his reflections on the subject alluded to in its title.

The concepts for these very personal compositions, which were brought to life by the noted Janacek Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Anthony Armore, fall into two basic categories. The five selections on the first disc talk of the wonders of the natural world, of bio-diversity, and of the power of the seasons. From the spry energy of That Old Indian Summer, to the majestic dignity of Movements in the Night, McEncroe’s talent for creating compositions that evoke both image and emotion is on vibrant display.

The second disc features two tracks that also explore ecological terrain. Those are combined with three distinctively introspective compositions which musically portray the joys and difficulties that are a part of daily life.  The tumultuous beginning of The Passing, which the composer says is “about letting go of old ideas that are no longer relevant,” evolves, as the music becomes brighter, to reflect the promise of a hopeful future. Echoes from a Haunted Past captures the frustration at not having resolved issues from the past.  Those tracks bookend the playful, pastoral A Pageant at the County Fair.

This is a very nice and listenable collection of music from a talented composer that has eluded me. The works are varied in mood, but McEnroe’s style shines though each of his works. I especially enjoyed the tone poems evoking nature.

For reasons of economy these days, a lot of new releases are done by smaller groups, so it’s refreshing to hear a full orchestra having a go at these works.

The recording is up the the usual Navona standards. There’s a very clear soundstage, the strings are realistic, and the low end is solid without being boomy.

I’ll have to seek out more of McEnroe’s work, as this first sampling was a positive musical experience. Recommended.

Track listing:
DISC 1
01 Summer’s Last Hurrah
02 That Old Indian Summer
03 Mid Autumn’s Deep Colours
04 Movements In The Night
05 An Early Autumn Morning

DISC 2
01 Deep In The Wilderness
02 The Passing
03 Echoes From A Haunted Past
04 A Pageant At The County Fair
05 A Celebration Of The Natural World

—Mel Martin