Compelling contemporary music from lesser known but hight talented composers

Prisma: Contemporary works for Orchestra – Music composed by Lionel Sainsbury, Clive Muncaster, Patricia Julien, and J. A. Kawarsky. Multiple Orchestras and conductors – Navona CD NV6141 (2/9/18) TT: 49:00 *** 1/2

Navona is offering listeners another fine disc of contemporary music by composers from both the United States and England.

The first work is Lionel Sainsbury’s Time of the Comet Op. 25. It’s a rousing piece celebrating the appearance of the Hale-Bobb comet discovered in 1995 which quickly became visible to the naked eye, It’s performed by the Moravian Philharmonic conducted by Petr Vronsky. The piece is joyous throughout and well orchestrated.

Next is Clive Muncaster’s Reflective Thought Patterns performed by the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra. Starting broadly with Brass and Tympani, it contains many orchestral colors including a marimba, vibraphone and french horn. It’s a good listen from a talented composer.

Track 3 is Patrcia Julien’s Among the Hidden. Darker and more restrained than the previous tracks, it starts with a piano soon joined by the Moranvian Philharmonic. It has lovely string melodies, and again, it’s a very listenable piece of contemporary music.

Finally, the disc features Kawarsky’s Fastidious Notes performed by the Chicago Arts Orchestra. The work  is based on a reworking of the American folk-song “Goodbye Old Paint,” features a sound borrowed from the school of 20th century American classical music.

This is a very nice disc, of very approachable modern music. It’s nice to see more and more of the music of lesser known composers become available, which should thrill lovers of contemporary music.

One complaint – More and more CDs are dropping the usual plastic cases for thin paper cases. I’m sure it saves money, but if you put your discs on a shelf it is impossible to see what is on the disc without pulling it out and looking at the front cover. Maybe this trend is a reflection of people putting their music on a server and listening that way, but I think it’s an ugly trend and the publishers of these discs should have more consideration of their customers.

—Mel Martin