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Classical Music Review

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Legends and Light
New Works for Large Ensemble


Composers: Hans Bakker, Jan Järvlepp, Clive Muncaster, and Shirley Mier
Conductors: Petr Vronský, Stanislav Vavřínek and Miran Vaupotić
Performed by: Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra and Croatian Chamber Orchestra
Label: Navona Records
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 12 October 2018

Navona Records releases Legends and Light, a compilation album featuring works by composers Hans Bakker, Jan Järvlepp, Clive Muncaster, and Shirley Mier. Each has a different, unique story to tell, and the narratives are brought to life by the orchestra and string ensemble...

Legends and Light delivers 16 (1 hr, 04 min, 44 sec) intricate and timeless works of art. There isn't a wasted second of music here. From start to finish this is an emotional roller coaster showcasing the wonder and beauty that traditional classical music can conjure up when the composer focuses on structure and melodies.

Hans Bakker showcases his 'Canzona III: Hidden in Her Light' in ternary form. Described by the composer as a “hymn to the sun,” this tone poem is reminiscent of the symphonic storytellings of such greats as Tchaikovsky and Rimsky-Korsakov — with a heritage of folk melodies and rhythms to boot.

Jan Järvlepp expresses his unique composition style in 'Suite for Strings'. In this celebration of lively rhythms, short melodic phrases are repeated and altered in such a way that the work becomes a meditation in several movements.

Clive Muncaster’s 'Redcliffe Gardens Suite for Strings' follows suit perfectly with a romantic 'Petronella,' enormously expressive in every way. 'Pastorella' takes it down a notch, toeing the line between major and minor, somewhat demonstrating the complexity of romantic love. But, obviously, love wins. 'Stella' is the heroic ballad to profess it. 'Fuga Romantica' layers the sweetness together using one of composition’s most complex forms. It is loaded with tone painting — butterflies in the stomach are aflutter in the entire ensemble, but finally come to rest. 'Girandole' opens with a romantic, Americana section followed by a section with exquisite suspensions. The return of the first section and themes ties it all together.

Shirley Mier’s 'Of Lakes and Legends', a programmatic work written for the Century Chamber Orchestra, closes the album. Each movement is set at White Bear Lake in Minnesota, the city where the Century College and the ensemble are located.

While I enjoyed this album as a whole, I have to admit for having a soft spot for Muncaster's 'Redcliffe Gardens Suite'. It's a wonderful mix of classical music and golden age Hollywood movie score, not to mention that there's a segment in 'Petronella' that brought to mind James Horner's signature chord progression.

This is a beautiful and varied collection of mini masterpieces. It couldn't have been any better. It's perfect.

Track listing:

Canzona III Hidden in Her Light
Hans Bakker
Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra
Petr Vronský (conductor)
01 - Moderato, measures 1-164
02 - Allegretto, measures 170-231
03 - L’istesso tempo, measures 232-288

Suite for Strings
Jan Järvlepp
Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra
Stanislav Vavřínek (conductor)
04 - Changing Times
05 - Shifting Cargo
06 - A Thoughtful Moment
07 - Dance of the Monkey Man

Redcliffe Gardens Suite for Strings
Clive Muncaster
Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra
Stanislav Vavřínek (conductor)
08 - Petronella
09 - Pastorella
10 - Stella
11 - Fuga Romantica
12 - Girandole

Of Lakes and Legends
Shirley Mier
Croatian Chamber Orchestra
Miran Vaupotić (conductor)
13 - Legend of the White Bear (Manitou Island)
14 - Ride on the Rails (Lake Superior & Mississippi Railroad Depot)
15 - Parlor Recital (Fillebrown House)
16 - Regatta (White Bear Yacht Club)


Darren Rea

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