“Of Birds and Lemons” – DAVID TANNER: Pocket Symphony; Tango of the Lemons; I’ll Come to Thee by Moonlight; Tyger; JOSE ELIZONDO: Estampas Mexicanas; Danzas Latinoamericonas; Leyendo del Quetzol y la Serpiente – Moravian Philharmonic Orch./ Millenium Sym./ Petr Vronsky/Vit Mieka/Robert Ian Winstin, conductors/ Zuzana Rzounkava, horn (in I’ll Come to Thee) – Navona Records NVS5887 [10/30/12] (Distr. by Naxos) *****:
These two composers have a lot in common, though one is from Mexico and the other from England. They both have an affinity for energetic, rhythmic and tonal compositions that sound refreshing and enjoyable. In fact, I don’t believe I’ve heard another collection of new music for a very long time that struck me as so listenable as these, and I felt I had to review it right away. They each have varied backgrounds and experiences, but their music seems to immediately appeal to the listener, and will probably do so internationally as well as in North America.
David Tanner was briefly part of a Canadian rock group called Lighthouse; he’s lived in Canada since 1953. He has taught saxophone and written works for concert band and choral groups. He is now retired, but took up composing with a new vigor in 2007, which resulted in his delightful little Tango of the Lemons heard here. The Pocket Symphony is in four short movements, just composed last year. In it, Tanner pays tribute to Bernstein, Copland, Debussy Tchaikovsky and some other Russian composers. His ten-minute work for horn and orchestra, I’ll Come to Thee by Moonlight, depicts a highwayman’s swashbuckling activities.
José Elizondo’s music is simple and straightforward. He likes to share elements of his Latin American roots with his audiences, and his orchestral works are performed around the world. Estampas Mexicanas was inspired by the music of Mexico’s Carlos Chávez, as well as the mysticism of Revueltas and the romantic lyricism of Ponce. Its last movement brings together European and Mexican sounds, including a symphonic version of a mariachi band. The piece has been performed around the world, including even Antarctica. The Moravian musicians perform both composers’ works to a T. This is a fine collection of new orchestral works that one need not fear in any way.
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