Author Topic: Orchestral Music of Nicolas Flagello  (Read 3996 times)

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Offline Scott

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Orchestral Music of Nicolas Flagello
« on: April 25, 2007, 05:45:26 AM »
   
Music By Nicolas Flagello: Violin Concerto; Symphonic Aria; Mirra (Interlude and Dance); The Sisters (Interludio); The Rainy Day; The Brook; Ruth's Aria; Canto; Polo I and II
Elmar Oliveira, vln; Susan Gonzalez, sop.; John McLaughin Williams, cond.; NRSO of Ukraine
Artek AR 0036-2

Outstanding American Late-Romantic Music by Nicolas Flagello

The music of Nicolas Flagello (1928-1994) has been having something of a renaissance in recent years after many years of shameful neglect. He is a member of that group of American Romantics that includes such composers as Samuel Barber and Gian Carlo Menotti and was a master of lyricism, expressive emotional content and form. This disc of orchestral music (including six orchestral songs) contains convincing exemplars of his abilities. It is largely thanks to musicologist Walter Simmons, an expert on the music of Flagello and the producer of this disc, that this recording came about. Simmons supplied the very helpful booklet notes. The National Radio Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine, a veteran of recordings of twentieth century American orchestral music, is conducted sensitively by John McLaughlin Williams, a specialist in Romantic American music. The music is presented in roughly chronological order of their composition from the 1951 'Symphonic Aria' to the two arias 'Polo I and II' from 1979 and 1980.

The big piece here is Flagello's Violin Concerto, played by Elmar Oliveira who had recorded the composer's Credendum on an earlier disc. Written in 1956 but because there seemed to be no interest in it, it was never orchestrated. The Flagello estate asked composer/editor Anthony Sbordoni to orchestrate it and he has done a masterful job. The concerto is in the usual three movements. I is based primarily on a minor key theme introduced initially by lightly accompanied violin; its dominating interval is a falling fourth. Oliveira plays the movement's fearsomely difficult cadenza with aplomb. II is an example of Flagello's special ability for writing ineffably sad and lyrical slow movements -- on this recording that description also fits the 'Symphonic Aria' and the interlude from his operas Mirra and The Sisters as well as several of the songs. (The Sisters, I've just learned, will be staged at Hunter College next month, its first production since the early 1960s. Involved in the production are Susan Gonzalez, the soprano heard on this disc but acting as director of the Hunter College production, and the aforementioned Anthony Sbordoni. I wish I could attend it as I find the heart-breakingly beautiful Interlude from this opera to be my favorite selection on this disc. Its delicate bitonal splashes of woodwind color cause a frisson every time I hear them.) The concerto's third movement is a brilliant rondo which is both stunningly virtuosic and emotionally expressive. Oliveira conveys both the sadness of II and the brilliance of I and III with musical assurance and eloquence.

There are two orchestral movements from the 1955 opera Mirra: the previously mentioned Interlude and a wildly frenzied 'Dance' vaguely reminiscent of similar movements by Bartók or Stravinsky.

After the Violin Concerto come the six orchestral songs. 'The Rainy Day', is set to Longfellow's familiar poem containing the famous concluding lines, 'Into each life some rain must fall / Some days must be dark and dreary'. 'The Brook' (1958) sets poetry by Tennyson. The line 'I slip, I slide, I gloom, I glance' reminds one of a similar passage in the Act IV quintet in Barber's Vanessa ('To leave, to break, to find, to keep') written the same year. 'Ruth's Aria' from Flagello's final opera Beyond the Horizon based on the O'Neill play is another lament: 'I now know what I did not know before: / The wounds of mind, and heart, and soul'. Gonzalez's communication of the emotions of this and the other arias is a marvel of vocal acting.

The disc concludes with three more orchestral songs. 'Canto' is a dramatic, anguished scena set to Flagello's own Italian text. 'Polo I' and 'Polo II' -- we are told that a 'polo' is a 'genre of flamenco song of Arabian origin' -- are songs of farewell to life and love. These, too, are sung marvelously by Gonzalez in Sbordoni's brilliant orchestrations.

On the booklet's cover is a beautiful painting by Flagello himself! Full texts are provided for the songs. One cannot offer praise high enough for the music and the performances on this disc, a shining example of the loving presentation of the highest order of works by a composer whose fame and acclaim can only grow as a result.

Strongly recommended.

Scott Morrison
Without music, life would be a mistake. -- Nietzsche

Harry

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Re: Orchestral Music of Nicolas Flagello
« Reply #1 on: April 25, 2007, 06:07:40 AM »
Like his music very much, and own currently this one.
Excellent piece by the way.

Robert

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Re: Orchestral Music of Nicolas Flagello
« Reply #2 on: April 25, 2007, 06:25:31 AM »
   
Music By Nicolas Flagello: Violin Concerto; Symphonic Aria; Mirra (Interlude and Dance); The Sisters (Interludio); The Rainy Day; The Brook; Ruth's Aria; Canto; Polo I and II
Elmar Oliveira, vln; Susan Gonzalez, sop.; John McLaughin Williams, cond.; NRSO of Ukraine
Artek AR 0036-2

Outstanding American Late-Romantic Music by Nicolas Flagello

The music of Nicolas Flagello (1928-1994) has been having something of a renaissance in recent years after many years of shameful neglect. He is a member of that group of American Romantics that includes such composers as Samuel Barber and Gian Carlo Menotti and was a master of lyricism, expressive emotional content and form. This disc of orchestral music (including six orchestral songs) contains convincing exemplars of his abilities. It is largely thanks to musicologist Walter Simmons, an expert on the music of Flagello and the producer of this disc, that this recording came about. Simmons supplied the very helpful booklet notes. The National Radio Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine, a veteran of recordings of twentieth century American orchestral music, is conducted sensitively by John McLaughlin Williams, a specialist in Romantic American music. The music is presented in roughly chronological order of their composition from the 1951 'Symphonic Aria' to the two arias 'Polo I and II' from 1979 and 1980.

The big piece here is Flagello's Violin Concerto, played by Elmar Oliveira who had recorded the composer's Credendum on an earlier disc. Written in 1956 but because there seemed to be no interest in it, it was never orchestrated. The Flagello estate asked composer/editor Anthony Sbordoni to orchestrate it and he has done a masterful job. The concerto is in the usual three movements. I is based primarily on a minor key theme introduced initially by lightly accompanied violin; its dominating interval is a falling fourth. Oliveira plays the movement's fearsomely difficult cadenza with aplomb. II is an example of Flagello's special ability for writing ineffably sad and lyrical slow movements -- on this recording that description also fits the 'Symphonic Aria' and the interlude from his operas Mirra and The Sisters as well as several of the songs. (The Sisters, I've just learned, will be staged at Hunter College next month, its first production since the early 1960s. Involved in the production are Susan Gonzalez, the soprano heard on this disc but acting as director of the Hunter College production, and the aforementioned Anthony Sbordoni. I wish I could attend it as I find the heart-breakingly beautiful Interlude from this opera to be my favorite selection on this disc. Its delicate bitonal splashes of woodwind color cause a frisson every time I hear them.) The concerto's third movement is a brilliant rondo which is both stunningly virtuosic and emotionally expressive. Oliveira conveys both the sadness of II and the brilliance of I and III with musical assurance and eloquence.

There are two orchestral movements from the 1955 opera Mirra: the previously mentioned Interlude and a wildly frenzied 'Dance' vaguely reminiscent of similar movements by Bartók or Stravinsky.

After the Violin Concerto come the six orchestral songs. 'The Rainy Day', is set to Longfellow's familiar poem containing the famous concluding lines, 'Into each life some rain must fall / Some days must be dark and dreary'. 'The Brook' (1958) sets poetry by Tennyson. The line 'I slip, I slide, I gloom, I glance' reminds one of a similar passage in the Act IV quintet in Barber's Vanessa ('To leave, to break, to find, to keep') written the same year. 'Ruth's Aria' from Flagello's final opera Beyond the Horizon based on the O'Neill play is another lament: 'I now know what I did not know before: / The wounds of mind, and heart, and soul'. Gonzalez's communication of the emotions of this and the other arias is a marvel of vocal acting.

The disc concludes with three more orchestral songs. 'Canto' is a dramatic, anguished scena set to Flagello's own Italian text. 'Polo I' and 'Polo II' -- we are told that a 'polo' is a 'genre of flamenco song of Arabian origin' -- are songs of farewell to life and love. These, too, are sung marvelously by Gonzalez in Sbordoni's brilliant orchestrations.

On the booklet's cover is a beautiful painting by Flagello himself! Full texts are provided for the songs. One cannot offer praise high enough for the music and the performances on this disc, a shining example of the loving presentation of the highest order of works by a composer whose fame and acclaim can only grow as a result.

Strongly recommended.

Scott Morrison
Thank you for bringing him up.  Walter Simmons turned me on to this gentleman a few years ago. I have most of his output... I love him.  Another incredible composer Walter turned me on to was Arnold Rosner both strongly reinforced by Steve Schwartz...Can't do better than that.....

Robert

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Re: Orchestral Music of Nicolas Flagello
« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2007, 06:31:19 AM »
Like his music very much, and own currently this one.
Excellent piece by the way.
Good Day Harry,
Do you also own his other Naxos disc with his Piano Concerto 1 ?  Excellent.....

Offline Scott

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Re: Orchestral Music of Nicolas Flagello
« Reply #4 on: April 25, 2007, 06:40:45 AM »
Thank you for bringing him up.  Walter Simmons turned me on to this gentleman a few years ago. I have most of his output... I love him.  Another incredible composer Walter turned me on to was Arnold Rosner both strongly reinforced by Steve Schwartz...Can't do better than that.....

Interestingly, Arnold Rosner wrote a review of the Sea Cliffs/Symphony No. 1 disc at Amazon. I agree with you about Rosner's music. His review, entitled 'Carrying the Banner' is at http://snipurl.com/1i3c9
Without music, life would be a mistake. -- Nietzsche

Harry

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Re: Orchestral Music of Nicolas Flagello
« Reply #5 on: April 25, 2007, 07:24:32 AM »
Good Day Harry,
Do you also own his other Naxos disc with his Piano Concerto 1 ?  Excellent.....

Good day to you also my friend! :)
The piano concerto of which I was unaware that it was released is now on my list.