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An ebullient personality

Five orchestral works
by Elliott Schwartz -
reviewed by

'... fertile imagination and bright spirit.'

Elliott Schwartz - Voyager. © 2004 Albany Records

In January this year the New York born composer Elliott Schwartz was 69. He has spent his working life at Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine where he now holds the Robert K Beckwith professorship. But his distinction as both composer and academic has taken him to several other US campuses and brought him to England where his ebullient personality won him admirers at Cambridge University and in London at Trinity College and, where I last met him many years ago, at the Guildhall School of Music. That ebullience runs through his music too.

This CD brings together five substantial pieces, three of which have been written over the last four years and show no diminution of his fertile imagination and bright spirit. The title piece, Voyager, was completed in 2002 and, as is implied, is associated with journeys -- to the Netherlands, England, Japan and Iceland. In his characteristic way, Schwartz incorporates fragments of older music on his travels -- traditional melodies, and brief quotations from pieces by composers from those countries as far distant in time as Sweelinck and Josquin, to closer giants like Vaughan Williams, whose symphonies were the subject of his 1964 book (published by Amherst). From its stirring opening, Voyager glides over musical territories, rising and falling as if airborne, an impressive piece of orchestral writing [listen -- track 1, 0:00-1:24].

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Copyright © 21 April 2005 Patric Standford, Wakefield UK


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