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Orchestral Works

Judd Nzso , Lilburn Audio CD

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Product Description

Product Description

Known as 'the elder statesman of New Zealand classical music', Douglas Lilburn was instrumental in establishing a genuinely vernacular voice. All the works on this recording portray New Zealand's culture through an idiom instantly recognisable to listener

Product Description

A Birthday Offering - A Song of Islands - Aotearoa - Drysdale Overture - Festival Overture - Forest - Processional Fanfare / NZSO, dir. James Judd

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Austral Nordicism Nov. 13 2006
By Thomas F. Bertonneau - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
A couple of years ago Naxos extended the favor to all students of Twentieth Century symphonic music of collecting on one bargain priced disc the three symphonies of the best known of New-Zealand composers, Douglas Lilburn (1915 - 2001), a protégé in the mid-1930s of Ralph Vaughan Williams. Even for educated listeners, Lilburn had hitherto been little more than an entry in the music-dictionary. In Los Angeles in the 1980s, when one was tuned into late-night radio, one might hear the "Aotearoa" Overture (1939), broadcast from a long-playing record of New-Zealand origin, wonderfully hypnotic in the quiet minutes of the dark antemeridian. (The DJ was probably Skip Weschner, who also broadcast the BIS LP of Aulis Sallinen's "Symphony 1970.") That first Naxos disc revealed an austral inheritor of the Sibelius tradition, who, like his American counterpart Howard Hanson, put a new inflection on Sibelius' Nordic language without greatly altering the grammar or the syntax. This is not meant as a complaint, but rather as a compliment. The new disc of Lilburn's orchestral music other than his symphonies, played once again by the New Zealand Symphony under conductor James Judd, verifies the earlier impression, but it also extends the picture of the composer by including his earliest orchestral score. This is a tone poem called "The Forest" (1936), dating from Lilburn's student-days in London, at the Royal College of Music. Like its companion, the "Drysdale Overture" (1937), "The Forest" takes it cues from the late Sibelius of Symphonies Nos. 5, 6, and 7 and the tone poem "Tapiola." In the Finnish national epic, "Kalevala," the god of the pine-forest bears the name Tapiola, so that Lilburn may be said to have borrowed even his nomenclature from the Master of Ainola. I recommend an AB comparison of the two works. Lilburn's score owes a debt, seeming to quote not only "Tapiola" but also the slow movement of Symphony No. 5, yet no one can really fault an apprentice artist from taking the best model that he can find. Richard Strauss modeled his early symphonic poems on those by Franz Liszt, but the listener enjoys Strauss, despite the indebtedness, on his own merits. In "Aotearoa" (1938) and "A Song of the Islands" (1946), we move from convincing apprentice work to journeyman accomplishments while remaining aware that the ghostly presence of the Finn glides through the landscape. "A Song of the Islands" is the outstanding item on the disc, a beautiful and moving score. In the 1960s, Lilburn came under the influence of Aaron Copland. SOme of the later pieces reflect this. James Judd presides over these performances with total commitment and exacting control of dynamics and tempi. Long gone are the days when the idea of a New Zealand orchestra seemed to American record collectors a bit like a quirky joke. Judd's orchestra is as good as any to be heard nowadays on CD. No one who buys this disc will suffer disappointment. Admirers of Sibelius and Hanson should take well to Lilburn's art. I also recommend the earlier CD of the three symphonies.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars New Zealand's Greatest Composer Oct. 21 2006
By J Scott Morrison - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
There is no question that Douglas Lilburn (1915-2001) is New Zealand's greatest and best-known composer. And if there is a quintessential orchestral work by Lilburn, it is his 'Aotearoa Overture' which has been played all over the world, and recorded several times by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, the group heard on this CD. It has been noted many times that 'Aotearoa' (which is a Maori word meaning 'land of the long white cloud') is very reminiscent of the music of Sibelius. Lilburn studied in England under Vaughan Williams at a time when the music of Sibelius was exerting enormous influence on English composers. If one did not know who the composer was, one might very well think it is unknown Sibelius piece. And since it is a musical landscape it has connections with similar Sibelius works. More important, it is an entirely lovely work and as far as I'm concerned one of the great short non-European orchestral works. I've loved it for thirty-five years and was thrilled to hear this fine performance by the NZSO under its music director, the Englishman James Judd.

Just as exciting, though, is the collection of otherwise relatively little-known works by Lilburn (little-known outside New Zealand at least). All but one are fairly early works; indeed two of them -- 'Drysdale Overture' (1937) and 'Forest' (1936) -- are student pieces, although you probably wouldn't recognize it on hearing them. 'Drysdale' is named for the farm in the central plateau of New Zealand's North Island on which Lilburn grew up. It has two main themes, one of them limning the landscape and the other a reminiscence of native lullabies that Lilburn's mother sang. 'Forest', a quarter-hour tone poem, describes an autumn landscape of a mountain in South Canterbury. There are typical Sibelian pizzicato basses that tread delicately through the first part of the work, but one can hear Lilburn's distinctive voice emerging. The piece won a competition for a work on New Zealand themes sponsored by Percy Grainger.

'Festival Overture' (1939), also a prize-winner, depicts the national spirit as the newly consolidated nation of New Zealand approached the War. It is both minatory and celebratory. 'A Song of the Islands' (1946), written after Lilburn had returned for good to New Zealand, is a quarter-hour tone poem in arch form that was inspired by a painting by New Zealand's Rita Angus depicting a church, cottage, barn and furrowed fields against a background of sea and snowy peaks. There is a haunting oboe melody that figures heavily in the work, along with a kind of breathless admiration for the scene depicted. The work has a sense of ultimately fulfilled anticipation, partly described through long-held harmonic suspensions, that is striking.

'A Birthday Offering' (1956) was written for the tenth anniversary of the founding of the National Orchestra (now the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra) and sounds a little like Copland, with wide-open harmonies, along with what sounds like a tale-telling mood. The last-written work recorded here is the short 'Processional Fanfare' (1961, rev. 1985) composed by Lilburn while he was professor at Victoria University in Wellington. It is, as one might guess from its title, sometimes used as a processional at graduation ceremonies and it features three trumpets and strings calling out, among other things, variations on 'Gaudeamus igitur', the student song well-known from Brahms's Academic Festival Overture.

The performances by the very fine NZSO are all one could want. My copy of the CD had some sporadic problems with mistracking, a defect I assume was unique to my copy. Otherwise sound was lifelike. For those who are drawn to this music I would call attention to the fine recordings on Naxos of Lilburn's three symphonies performed by the same forces.

Scott Morrison
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Glorious Music From New Zealand Feb. 26 2012
By K.J. McGilp - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Many moments in these pieces remind one of the music of Jean Sibelius. However, this music does not brood as deeply nor profoundly as the Finnish master's. They do not plunge you into the ominously elemental and haunted soundworld of "Tapiola" for example. That said, this is music of rich color and sunlit vista's.
The "Aotearoa Overture" is eight minutes and 9 seconds of grace and energy. It is full of love for New Zealand's wondrous landscape. It is a truly inspirational piece of music. "A Birthday Offering" had this listener thinking of Bernstein, Stravinsky. Prokofiev and Copland. It is very enjoyable and perhap's the most 'different' sounding track on this CD. The "Drysdale Overture" is a homage to the place where Lilburn grew up. It sounds at first like Sibelius's 7th, with it's recurring horn theme. It then branches out into a Nielsen-like central section and closes winningly. "Forest" and "A Song of Islands" are the most deeply Sibelian pieces on the disc. They contain wonderful tonal painting filled with atmosphere. In these tone poem's, Lilburn navigates through the mountain's and valley's with a depth of feeling all his own. Wonderful stuff! The "Festival Overture" recall's parts of New Zealand's history and nationality. It is a spirited composition that sound's akin to the "Aotearoa Overture" and that's not a bad thing! "Processional Fanfare" contains a Purcell-like trumpet theme. It is joyous and celebratory.
James Judd and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra are superb throughout. The Naxos sonics have hardly ever sounded better. At a bargain price, this disc is a no-brainer for anyone interested. Highly recommended!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Music from the Southern Hemisphere Nov. 25 2012
By J. R. Trtek - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
In addition to their worthwhile disc of all three symphonies by Douglas Lilburn, James Judd and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra have also recorded this release featuring seven of Lilburn's orchestral works. The most likely one for you to have already heard is the Aotearoa Overture, which along with A Song of Islands constitutes the center of gravity for this release, at least as far as my ears are concerned. All the pieces, however, are engaging and worth repeated visits. There is an underlying British core to this music -- reasonable, since I believe that Lilburn was a student of Vaughan Williams -- but in many cases that core is a frail backbone onto which are pile other influences, perhaps most notably Sibelius, as others have noted. In a kind of odd way, actually, Lilburn at times sounds like a kind of New Zealand Copland, but in a European way. Does that make sense? Maybe not. In any case, this and the other album containing the three symphonies make for a marvelous compact Lilburn collection, and I recommend both discs to you most heartily.
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful tone poems evoking the grandeur of New Zealand's countryside Jan. 24 2013
By Oliver Owen - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
For lovers of Sibelius, you have a treasure trove of exhilarating tone poems awaiting you on this disk written in a style similar to the tone poems of that great Finnish master! My favorite pieces are Aotearoa and Drysdale overture, which are not only wonderfully evocative in their depiction of New Zealand's majestic landscapes, but also contain some moments of tender lyricism, such as the oboe solo in Drysdale overture recalling folk lullabies sung by the composer's mother. The tone poems Forest and A Song of the Islands are written in a similar vein-- they also conjure up images of dark woodland and rugged, sweeping vistas. All these works are immediately accessible and enjoyable, as are the Festival Overture and Processional Fanfare. The only work I didn't care for was A Birthday Offering, which is a bit too modernistic for my taste. Over all, this disk of quality music by a lesser known composer definitely merits a hearing, and it grows more enjoyable with repeated listenings.
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