Philip Glass’ Concerto Fantasy for Two Timpanists and Orchestra, composed in 2000 and transcribed for wind ensemble by Mark Lortz in 2004, is a significant addition to the repertoire of large-scale works for timpani. The work is rhythmically galvanizing, sonically alluring, and features virtuoso cadenzas for both soloists. Symphony No 4 ‘In the Shadow of No Towers’ is Mohammed Fairouz’s first major work for wind ensemble, and its inspiration is the provocative comic book by Art Spiegelman, written shortly after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Spiegelman himself has commented: “I’m moved by [this] scary, somber, and seriously silly symphony…I’m honored that the composer found an echo in my work that allowed him to strike a responsive chord and express his own complex responses to post 9/11 America. He emerges from the rubble with a very tony piece of high-brow cartoon music.”
Bernstein recorded Gershwin's "American in Paris" and "Rhapsody in Blue" in the late '50s with the same NY Philharmonic playing here. That LP (later transferred to CD) was superlative in every way. In this DVD, he conducts both works in the Royal Albert Hall in London, with the same orchestra as the LP. The results are the same.
Barber: Adagio for Strings by Neville Marriner and the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields is an Argo CD that is a long-standing favorite from the LP catalog. Recorded in 1976, in its LP incarnation this issue went a long way toward dispelling the notion that English orchestras were too heavy in body and provincial in tone to interpret American orchestral music in an effective way.
Not many world famous composers have been equally successful at writing both absolute and programme music. Moreover, only a mere handful has managed to achieve something truly extraordinary in both genres. One of these coposers was Peter Tchaikovsky. When inspired by great literature, his passion for reading likely stood him in good stead: after all, as far as Tchaikovsky was concerned, reading ranked ‘among the greatest moments of pleasure’.