Michael S. Horwood: Suite and Serious

Michael S. Horwood: Suite and Serious

by Ian Hobson
     
 
Canadian composer Michael S. Horwood started out in the field of new music leading an improvising ensemble called Convergence at the Humber College of Applied Arts and Technology, where Horwood taught until his retirement in 2003. Horwood's orchestral "Amusement Park Suite" (1986) represented a radical shift in his work, away from the highly technical and

Overview

Canadian composer Michael S. Horwood started out in the field of new music leading an improvising ensemble called Convergence at the Humber College of Applied Arts and Technology, where Horwood taught until his retirement in 2003. Horwood's orchestral "Amusement Park Suite" (1986) represented a radical shift in his work, away from the highly technical and hyper-complex world of new music as it was known in 1986 and toward a more neo-Romantic idiom that nonetheless retained some vestiges of what he had done before. This work is included in Albany Records' disc devoted to Horwood, Suite and Serious, along with his "National Park Suite" (1990) and "Symphony No. 1" (1984) performed by the Sinfonia Varsovia under Ian Hobson. The program is filled out by a set of variations for piano and orchestra, "Intravariations" (1997), with the solo part played by Joseph Kubera. "Amusement Park Suite" (1986) is Horwood's signature piece and has been performed with considerable frequency both in Canada and the United States, largely by community orchestras and at children's concerts. In terms of reaching children and classical music-hating adults, "Amusement Park Suite" is great for that purpose, and though occasionally cinematic in tone it is nevertheless fresh sounding and very creative in an orchestral sense. The "Symphony No. 1" is only slightly earlier and is dedicated to the memory of Idora Park in Youngstown, OH, which closed as the ink was drying on Horwood's manuscript. It is a little tougher than the "Amusement Park Suite" but not very much so -- some listeners might find it reminiscent of some mid-twentieth century symphonies such as those by Roger Sessions or Karl Amadeus Hartmann. "National Park Suite" finds Horwood back in his pictorial mode, converting national parks located in both Canada and the United States into music, as Ferde Grofé once did. Occasionally one finds Horwood's musical correspondences a little mystifying, such as the strident march figures used to represent Yellowstone, but everyone takes away from the national parks their own distinct impressions and Horwood deserves points for keeping true to himself. "Intravariations" are Bartókian in style and not bad, although this more "serious" effort seems a bit out of place in comparison to the other three works. As with most Albany releases featuring Hobson and the Sinfonia Varsovia of recent vintage, both the performance and recording are terrific. "Amusement Park Suite" certainly has going for it a measure of accessibility, is well orchestrated, and its presence in the recorded repertoire is welcome; the other pieces are at least interesting. Albany's Suite and Serious will help stimulate performances of Horwood's music and allay the fears of prospective concertgoers faced with the prospect of an unfamiliar name on the program -- don't worry folks, this guy isn't going to bite you.

Product Details

Release Date:
07/17/2007
Label:
Albany Records
UPC:
0034061094326
catalogNumber:
943

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. National Park Suite, for orchestra
  2. Symphony No. 1
  3. Intravariations, theme & variations for piano & orchestra
  4. Amusement Park Suite, for orchestra

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Ian Hobson   Primary Artist

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