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Orchestral improvisations

Todd Goodman's
Symphony No 1, reviewed by

Wrong Note Media    6 87474 07992 5

Todd Goodman: Symphony No 1 'Fields of Crimson'. © 2003 Wrong Note Media

This is a documentary piece about the American Civil War, covering five days in the summer of 1863 starting at a point just south of Gettysburg. The concept is interesting. There is just less than half an hour of music, beginning with an introductory movement depicting dawn at a tranquil camp of Confederate troops, broken by the Assembly bugle calls and the march north. After this, short narrations, written by Justin Cober, form meditative evening links that each lead into one of the Symphony's central movements which give an impression of the fighting over those first days of July. A final short fifth movement is called 'Remembrance'.

The spoken text is very poignant; the music is illustrative without any cohesive symphonic structure, a series of orchestral improvisations reflecting the words, yet doing this effectively and with an orchestrator's confident skill. The fierce battle of Day 3 sounds out the orchestra's weighty brass section [listen -- track 7, 2:43-3:40] and in the finale is that unmistakable picture of the American landscape [listen -- track 9, 2:24-3:20].

This is a recording of the work's recent first performance on 1st March 2003, which would no doubt have been a moving occasion, for the work is well designed to make its statement live about the evil of war, but it should have been a more powerfully structured symphony. In its present form its competence is in its moods. Todd Goodman was born 1977 in Bedford, Pennsylvania and has just completed a season as composer-in-residence with the Altoona Symphony, a year that has given him an admirable opportunity.

Continue to David Arditti review >>

Copyright © 27 December 2003 Patric Standford, Wakefield UK


Todd Goodman's Symphony No 1 'Fields of Crimson'

6 87474 07992 5 Stereo NEW RELEASE 32'43" 2003 Wrong Note Media

Carolyn Donaldson, narrator; Altoona Symphony Orchestra; Nicholas Palmer, conductor

Todd Goodman: Symphony No 1 'Fields of Crimson' (narration by Justin Cober)


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