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Boyer: Symphony No.1

London Philharmonic Orchestra , Boyer Audio CD

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Product Description

The second Naxos recording of music by Peter Boyer, one of America's most frequently performed contemporary classical composers. His GRAMMY-nominated Ellis Island: The Dream of America can be heard on Naxos 8.559246.

Product Description

Symphonie n°1 - Silver Fanfare - Festivities - Three Olympians - Celebration Overture / London Philharmonic Orchestra - Peter Boyer, direction

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.9 out of 5 stars  41 reviews
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spend an hour with Peter Boyer Feb. 25 2014
By Joseph Schubert - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Peter Boyer's music has been called "unapologetically populist," with a "cinematic musical language [that] is a stew of Copland, Bernstein and John Williams." All of this is apparent in the first six tracks of this CD, which are a compilation of shorter works spanning a fourteen year period from 1997 to 2011. Populist yes: his music eschews the harsh dissonance of atonalism, the deterministic tendencies and contrapuntal artifices of serialism, the process music of minimalism. Rather, like one of his own musical heroes, Leonard Bernstein, he draws inspiration from popular music styles which formed the backdrop for his coming of age: the orchestral ambiance of a movie score by Elmer Bernstein (with whom he studied) or John Williams; the lyricism of a Billy Joel ballad and modality of a Beatle's tune; the tonal centeredness and rhythmic drive inherent to jazz and rock.

But populist does not negate serious; neither does it mean simplistic or unsophisticated. Like another one of the composers he admires, John Adams, Boyer knows how to take materials and layer them over an ostinato into increasingly dense and complex textures. He knows how to take small melodic motifs and transform them into longer melodies. He can easily alter the character of a melody, transforming lyrical introspection into exuberant joy. He has a knack for balancing the highs with the lows. He extracts colors from his orchestrations that can range from bold neon to subtle pastel. And he is not afraid to challenge conventional wisdom.

This latter point is apparent in the final three tracks, which comprise the signature work of the recording: his Symphony No. 1. Dispensing with the predictable format of the typical symphony, Boyer begins with a prelude that is a hybrid of fugue and developing variation. The modal subject proves its versatility: it works just fine in a four-voiced exposition, strings only, which has a sort of wind-swept expansiveness to it as it slowly gathers its forces. When the brass section enters, the fugue transforms itself into something more developmental in character: the theme undergoes two sets of diminution, motives are extracted and sequenced, and melodic fragments transform into unfolding harmonic constructions. Having an ear for organic proportions, Boyer builds to a climax and takes it all away at just about the Fibonacci point in the movement. The subject becomes a tender lullaby that hovers over an interior pedal tone, giving beautiful harmonic stasis and a peaceful quietude until the end.

The calm is shattered with the outset of the second movement, with Boyer again shunning the usual symphonic template. This is the unrelentingly rhythmic Scherzo/Dance. With its jaunty 1231231231212 ostinato as the alternately explicit and implicit underpinning of the movement, Boyer creates layer upon layer comprised of melodies and countermelodies, repeating harmonic progressions, pedal points, and variations of the same in an ABA' format.

The last movement is almost as long as the previous two, and delivers a summation and conclusion to what came before. An Adagio rather than an Allegro, its main theme is a sibling to that of the first movement, and proves its worth in the same way, offering opportunities for motivic parsing, imitation, solo and tutti settings, character transformation and development. Boyer takes his time and enjoys the journey with his material, ending with a satisfying full-orchestra climax.

If you want to languish in melancholy, you can go to Górecki. If you need something unrelenting and motoric to accompany an hour on the treadmill, you can call Phillip Glass. But if you need to "snap out of it", or if you're already on top of the world and want to stay there, or if there is just not room for anything sad in your life, or if you need an infusion of inspiration but need it to be in the form of music that has more to offer than its immediate attraction, spending an hour with Peter Boyer will fit your bill quite nicely.

--Joseph Schubert
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spectacular music from a fine composer Feb. 25 2014
By Classical music admirer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Boyer's music demonstrates influences from important American symphonic composers such as Copland, Bernstein, and Williams, as well as American "neo-Romantic" composers like Barber and Hanson; while hearkening back in some ways to these earlier American composers, his music nonetheless has its own compelling voice. His Symphony No. 1 may be his most ambitious purely musical (non-programmatic) work to date, and is a worthy addition to the canon of American symphonies.

Boyer has a strong lyrical/melodic gift, a quality not often seen in contemporary American orchestral music (outside of cinema music, which is a clear influence on his work). Though his music is "accessible," and does not favor astringent dissonances or experimental approaches, it is extremely well-crafted, and bears repeated listenings. His music often has great rhythmic vitality, and he handles mixed meters in a compelling way; the "Scherzo/Dance" of the Symphony No. 1, which is in a very unusual 13/8 meter, is still very dance-like. Boyer is a superb orchestrator, with total command of the large orchestral forces he employs, and a colorful and varied approach to orchestration (including strong brass writing).

Three of Boyer's shorter works, "Silver Fanfare", "Celebration Overture", and "Festivities", demonstrate his skills at crafting exuberant concert openers. "Three Olympians" for string orchestra, inspired by three of the Greek gods of Olympus, demonstrates Boyer's idiomatic writing for strings, and has a "Brittenesque" influence; "Aphrodite" features one of his most lyrical melodies.

The London Philharmonic Orchestra is one of the worldʼs premiere recording ensembles, and performs brilliantly under the composerʼs baton. Recorded at Abbey Road Studios, the recorded sound is excellent. Overall, this is a powerful recording, and a strong addition to the Naxos American Classics Series.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars (Peter Boyer's American Exuberance) + (Old World Precision of the London Philharmonic) = One World Class CD Feb. 25 2014
By Glenn A. Pickett - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
This new Naxos collection of Peter Boyer’s music is one of his best.

Conducted by the composer, the London Philharmonic Orchestra (L.P.O.) takes the highly rhythmic and complex energy of Boyer’s American music and presents it with aplomb that is rare. This orchestra brings an old world precision (keep calm and carry on) to Boyer’s American exuberance that reminds us again of just what a great, modern symphonic orchestra is truly capable of. It’s obvious that both Boyer and the L.P.O. care if you listen.

Of special note in this collection is Boyer’s first symphony, recently commissioned and premiered by the Pasadena (CA) Symphony. Although the work’s harmonic universe is highly tonal, the first movement is surprisingly, not in sonata form. Rather, it pays homage, and gives a post-minimalist twist, to an even older tonal form, the fugue.

If the first movement had been written in sonata form, the third movement could very well serve as its secondary theme. Boyer’s growing command of orchestration, prevalent throughout this work, truly shines here. A long, beautifully sweeping melody first unfolds in the lower parts of the orchestra. Then, like the progressing sunlight of the day, it warms the other sections of the orchestra until the entire ensemble blossoms into a fragrant display of sonic color.

Is there a future repertoire for the symphonic orchestra beyond the cyclical performing of the great masters of the past that audiences will listen to? Yes, and Boyer is helping to pave the road to that future with his music. Thank you to Naxos for bringing us another Peter Boyer album.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Substantial and expertly crafted music Feb. 25 2014
By Karim Elmahmoudi - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
This new disc from Naxos opens with a blazing performance of Peter Boyer's "Silver Fanfare" full of exciting brass fanfares. Celebratory music fits Boyer well as we hear on 2011's Festivities. These serve as major showpieces for orchestras. The "Three Olympians" is scored for strings where each movement represents a mythological Greek god in terms of character description. The music is virtuosic, warm and always engaging. The earliest work on this disc is the "Celebration Overture" which further demonstrates the composer's range of exciting fanfares and contrasting long melodies which are developed into large climaxes. The newest work on the disc is the Symphony No. 1 from 2013 which has three substantial movements. Immediately, one recognizes the scale and canvas is larger and the ideas developed over time into a grand finale of considerable weight.

The recording, performances, and interpretation are all top notch. This disc is highly recommended to anyone who enjoy sweeping American lyricism such as Leonard Bernstein, John Williams, and Aaron Copeland.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An American Classic: Peter Boyer Feb. 25 2014
By L3Music - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Propulsive, vivacious, blazing, fresh, and quintessentially, American. Composer and conductor, Peter Boyer, does not disappoint with this new album. Recorded at Abbey Road under the direction of the composer, the London Philharmonic Orchestra does a beautiful job bringing the vibrant music of Boyer’s to life with a brilliance and virtuosity that only the ensemble can.

All of the pieces on this album compliment one another. Boyer takes you on a musical journey beginning with Silver Fanfare and ending with his first symphony, Symphony No. 1. The piece, Festivities, is a musical treasure that I am sure will become an orchestral standard.

Boyer saves the best for last. Symphony No. 1 exemplifies the composer’s craft, creativity, inspirations, and individual compositional voice. Listening to this work, one comes away with the impression that this piece represents Boyer himself.

For those who wish to learn more about great contemporary American composers, this album is a great introduction.

Welcome to the musical world of Peter Boyer!

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