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Juhani Nuorvala's Notturno urbano is a wonderfully sinister little piece. Of no particular programme, but the first three sections are based on a theme which is fully presented in the last section. It successfully evokes the disquiet of an urban night [listen -- track 4, 0:42-2:01].

These first four pieces are given fine, confident performances the Ruse Philharmonic Orchestra from Bulgaria, ably directed by Tsanko Delibozov. There are, admittedly, times when the unanimity of the orchestra, strings in particular, leaves a little to be desired, but in a programme devoted to brand new music this is understandable, if not ideal. But what does not come into question is the strong performance that the orchestra gives -- no question here of underpowered first performances.

The final piece on the disc is The Furies by Mary Mageau, a three movement piano concerto with each movement describing a different fury. The Bartókian opening of the first movement describes Alecto arriving on the wings of the wind [listen -- track 5, 0:44-2:16]. The sombre, menacing middle movement describes the sleeping Tisiphone. The final movement, which gives the piano soloist a welcome chance to display virtuosity, describes the hunting Megaera [listen -- track 7, 0:41-1:50]. The performance by pianist Wendy Lorenz is exemplary and she is ably supported by the Queensland Symphony Orchestra.

This is a group of interesting, attractively orchestrated pieces, which gives us the opportunity of hearing music by a group of composers who do not feature heavily in the CD catalogue.

Copyright © 21 March 2004 Robert Hugill, London UK


New Music for Orchestra - Music from Six Continents 1996 series

VMM 3036 DDD Stereo 62'29" 1996 Vienna Modern Masters

Bogdana Peneva, cello (Gallagher); Wendy Lorenz, piano (Mageau); The Ruse Philharmonic Orchestra, Bulgaria conducted by Tsanko Delibozov (Gallagher, Pelinka, Beath, Nuorvala); Queensland Symphony Orchestra, Australia conducted by Lyn Williams (Mageau)

Jack Gallagher (born 1947): The Persistence of Memory (1995); Werner Pelinka (born 1952): Diagonal Op 27 (1994); Betty Beath (born 1932): Lagu Lagu Manis II (1994); Juhani Nuorvala (born 1961): Notturno urbano (1996); Mary Mageau (born 1934): The Furies (1995)


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