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Hyperion Records

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Fire (detail from a triptych depicting the Elements) (1913) by Franz von Stuck (1863-1928)
Private Collection
Track(s) taken from CDA67493
Recording details: June 2004
Eugene McDermott Concert Hall, Morton H Meyerson Symphony Center, Dallas, USA
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Jeff Mee
Release date: August 2005
Total duration: 17 minutes 32 seconds

'Andrew Litton draws a meticulously prepared response from his admirable Texas band and all three soloists are on irreproachably secure form throughout. The sound has both impressive body and detail in its favour' (Gramophone)

'Andrew Litton's excellent Dallas Symphony Orchestra does full justice to all the works … And the three soloists for whom the later pieces were written could hardly be bettered' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Four works excellently performed and recorded that represent the composer at his best … Passages are ravishingly beautiful, the scoring is extraordinarily imaginative, and the overall impact is quite moving… This fine resent release offers exquisite performances' (Fanfare, USA)

'New York-born conductor Andrew Litton is virtually an adopted son of England, so it seems natural to see him turn up on Hyperion. Still, this collection of brilliantly wrought recent scores by American composer Joseph Schwantner comes as a welcome surprise' (Time Out New York, USA)

Angelfire 'Fantasy for amplified violin and orchestra'

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Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Beginning in 1987, Schwantner embarked on a series of fantasies for solo instrument and orchestra, each composed with a specific performer in mind. The first, From Afar (1987) was for the guitarist Sharon Isbin. A Play of Shadows for flautist Ransom Wilson followed in 1990. Angelfire: ‘Fantasy’ for amplified violin and orchestra (2001) was the third in this series of fantasies. ‘Anne Akiko Meyers’s beguiling stage presence masks a fierce and daring musical temperament’, says the composer. ‘[Her] technical prowess and spirit draw the listener into her deeply expressive world. That visit helped to frame my musical ideas for Angelfire.’

Like its predecessors in this series, Angelfire is cast as a one-movement arch form. Schwantner has written: ‘The music begins with several strongly punctuated gong-like pedal tones in the orchestra, followed by a series of incisive and declamatory phrases for the solo violin, articulated in its lowest register. Emerging from this rather stark and austere texture is a recurring and increasingly prominent phrase presented by the strings, which gradually reveals the work’s primary harmonic kernel. These clear, straightforward and direct initial elements form the basis for all of the musical materials generated, transformed and developed throughout the work.’

Angelfire was commissioned by the Howard Hanson Memorial Institute of the University of Rochester’s Eastman School of Music. Schwantner wrote it for Anne Akiko Meyers, and the score is dedicated to her.

from notes by Laurie Shulman © 2005

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