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But results are not guaranteed. While Shostakovich is continuously surprising and effective with even banal phrases, Actor, perhaps because he is less experienced than most composers his age, is occasionally predictable. One anticipates a series of modulations or the motion of a phrase from one orchestra section to another before it happens, and if the melodic element is uninteresting, it stays that way. Here's an excerpt from the first movement of the Symphony No 1 [listen -- track 3, 10:03-11:00].

The second movement, 'Lament', lives up to its name. This excerpt features the sorrowful theme on which it is built [listen -- track 4, 0:28-1:27].

III is a rondo, the recurring theme a sarcastic-sounding march. Here it moves through the orchestra and is transformed into a most promising swagger that does reappear later in the movement, but never realizes its full potential [listen -- track 5, 0:28-1:38]. The movement and symphony conclude with a fine crescendo treatment of the rondo theme.

The final work on the program is Variations and Fugue for Orchestra. There are four variations. All are serious, even tragic in manner. A fugal section for brass is particularly effective.

I continue to be impressed by the thorough professionalism of lesser heralded orchestras and conductors. I can't imagine better or more committed versions of this music than those of Kirk Trevor and the Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra. Strongly recommended. Those who enjoy conservative, well-made modern music won't be disappointed.

Copyright © 30 April 2007 Ron Bierman, San Diego, USA


Lee Actor - Music for Orchestra

MMC2140 Stereo FIRST RELEASE 58'54" 2005 MMC Recordings Ltd

Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra; Kirk Trevor, conductor

Lee Actor (born 1952): Prelude to a Tragedy (2003); Redwood Fanfare (2002); Symphony No 1 (2003) (Prelude; Lament; Finale); Variations and Fugue for Orchestra (2002)



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