It always causes me a rueful smile when I see an album such as this – of quintessential Americana in music – that has been recorded in Poland (as this was) or somewhere else outside of the U.S. – due to our high union rates. Ah well, it’s still an excellent performance of worthwhile music in good sonics – which in the past we didn’t always get with offshore recording venues.
Composer Horwood was born in Buffalo but seems to be primarily headquartered in Canada, where he is an active composer (and probably has received more career assistance than he ever would have in the U.S.). His works have in fact been issued on six different Canadian record labels. His compositions cover a wide range of styles and approaches, and he likes to create works involving extra-musical concepts. The latter applies to the first and last works on this CD. Both suites are in a five-movement form and are miniature tone poems about specific locales such as Yellowstone, Bryce Canyon, or in the case of the Amusement Park Suite different rides such as the Carousel, Roller Coaster, and so on. There is fairly serious thought behind these works – they shouldn’t be confused with Leroy Anderson, for example. They’re not patronizing.
Horwood’s “serious” symphony is written in neo-classical style for a slightly modified chamber orchestra of the period. It is in three-movement form, with the finale being based on a perpetual motion concept. Intravariations was originally titled Variations for Piano and Orchestra but the composer wanted to point up his design of having variations within variations and modified the work’s title. The main theme is a progression nine chords which begin and end on A Major/Minor. One of the harmonic influences is a Magyar one which may remind the listener of Bartok, Kodaly or Rozsa. Horwood’s own unique musical language is expressed in an overall style of romanticism, as both concerto and variation forms are dealt with in the work.
– John Sunier