I'm quicking coming to the opinion that JoAnn Falletta is just about one of the best conductors in America today! I had the pleasure of attending a concert with her, the Santa Rosa Symphony (CA), with Michael Ludwig performing the amazing Corigliano Violin Concerto 'The Red Violin' (also recorded for Naxos). She made our regional orchestra sing! But more importantly, she and Michael Fine (Naxos) seem to be discovering great, unsung American composers. Two of my favorite recordings of last year were the Kenneth Fuchs discs on Naxos conducted by Ms. Faletta along with her recordings of the music of Romeo Cascarino, John Duffy (Albany), and Copland. Outstanding music and outstanding performances. Now this fine disc of Jack Gallagher's music. I wish it had been recorded by the Buffalo Philharmonic, but LSO sounds wonderful! I apologize that these comments are more about JoAnn Falletta than Jack Gallagher (checkout the reviews in Fanfare Magazine about this recording), but she and her compatriot Marin Alsop have done so much to further the cause of American music as well as demonstrate that conducting is no longer exclusively a "boy's club". Both artists demonstrate that music has no gender, only soul and intellect. And we need to support labels like Naxos that keep the candle of classical recordings burning bright instead of the dull bulb of reissues, repackaging, and rehased recordings!
From Carson Cooman at "Fanfare Magazine":
"I have been a big fan of the music of American composer Jack Gallagher (b.1947) for nearly 15 years and have encountered all but one of these pieces piecemeal on previous multi-composer collections. An album entirely devoted to Gallagher's music was long overdue. Gallagher's language is largely tonal and traditionalist in orientation; it is the memorable quality of his musical ideas that have kept me returning to his music over the years. He is also a first-rate orchestrator, and the terrific playing of the London Symphony Orchestra showcases this aspect better than ever.
The bulk of Gallagher's orchestral output is included on this CD. The only significant exceptions are The Persistence of Memory, available on a Vienna Modern Masters release, and the 12-minute A Quiet Musicke, which remains unrecorded. Diversions Overture (1986) is a delightful work in which two contemplative outer sections surround a bustling inner section with a very John Williams-esque "big tune" that you'll be whistling for days. It is one of the most satisfying American overtures I know, and the quiet coda provides an unexpectedly fresh ending to a piece in this ubiquitous "10 minute overture" genre. Berceuse (1976) is a beautiful, simple lullaby in a lilting triple meter.
The Sinfonietta for String Orchestra (1990/2007) is a five-movement work with the character of a divertimento. It calls to mind the American Symphonette suites of Morton Gould. Most appealing is the middle Malambo movement, an homage to Alberto Ginastera. Though it is a bit shorter than the Sinfonietta, the most "substantial" work on the album is the symphony (1991, rev. 2008). It is a deeply emotional piece composed in memory of Gallagher's mother. The musical language is substantially more acerbic than the other works. Along with Anthony Iannaccone's tremendous Third Symphony (1992), Gallagher's is my favorite "unknown" symphony of the 1990s and is music that deserves to be widely played. The symphony begins with an extended slow section that builds momentum toward fast, driving music. The inexorable thrust of the piece compellingly depicts the murky emotional passage from lonely darkness into assertive conviction--ending with a forceful, angry coda.
Three of the pieces on this album have been recorded previously. Diversions Overture is on an ERM release with the Kiev Philharmonic and the symphony and Berceuse are on two Vienna Modern Masters albums with the Polish Radio Symphony and Koszalin Philharmonic. These new recordings by JoAnn Falletta and the LSO (and overseen by veteran producer Michael Fine) are superior in every way. Warmly recommended and almost certainly a Want List item for me".