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Musical Images for Chamber Orchestra
Reflections & Recollections Vol. 2


Composer: Mark John McEncroe
Conductor: Anthony Armoré
Performed by: Janáček Philharmonic
Label: Navona Records
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 14 February 2020

Navona Records presents its latest release from composer Mark John McEncroe: Musical Images for Chamber Orchestra Reflections & Recollections Vol. 2. The album, which was recorded in the Czech Republic, features 11 of McEncroe’s piano works performed by the Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra...

'Daybreak', the album’s first track, sets the tone with a bright, unflappable woodwind passage, which is met with a lush, sweeping string accompaniment. The consoling effervescence of this first piece is paired with 'Floating Lilies', featuring a series of aching minor descending figures. Later on in the album, 'Dance of the Pagans' invites the listener to join in the dance around the campfire. 'Natalie’s Theme' sees somber recollections build and erupt into crescendo only to retreat at once to heartrending silence. The album concludes with 'Shimmering Lights', which guides the collection to a decisive final cadence.

Following on from Mark John McEncroe's Musical Images for Chamber Orchestra: Reflections & Recollections Vol. 1 comes the second volume. This is a totally different beast, in mood and presentation. Whereas volume 1 was instantly accessible, thrusting theme after theme in the listener's general direction, volume 2 is no less impressive, but it's a lot subtler. The pieces here gradually grow on you over repeat listens. That's not to say it's not instantly welcoming, because you'll be bowled over by just how many intricate themes are present. But this album, more than the previous volume, rewards the listener the more times they return.

There's a wonderfully rich balance of styles here that make this one of my current favourite series. For those who have been following McEncroe's output, you'll be pleased to learn that vol. 3 and 4 are currently in production.

McEncroe never fails to deliver moving, beautiful pieces. If this doesn't both lift your spirits and reduce you to tears... check your pulse.


Darren Rea

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