by Max Lifchitz


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Now that composers like Osvaldo Golijov have experienced sustained success, eclectic styles of an international nature have begun to make inroads into academic settings. This little disc of chamber-orchestral music from the upstate New York label North/South Recordings offers a useful survey of American developments as exemplified in music by five composers. Four were born outside the U.S., but were partly educated and have flourished there, while the fifth, Brian Banks, is a native of Washington state who lives and teaches in Mexico. His "Serenata No. 1 (Legados imaginarios)" involves "imaginary legacies" of four figures: George Harrison, Lou Harrison, Henry Sapoznik (a legendary producer of Yiddish music recordings and broadcasts in New York), and Arturo Márquez (a Mexican composer oriented toward folklore). The work is interesting when considered with that in mind, but it's likewise appealing when heard without any foreknowledge. The various vernacular styles to which Banks refers fit together in a very unusual way, with the opening movement being a sort of Indian blues (it is George Harrison's Indian experiments that are relevant here). The music proceeds seamlessly into Yiddish- and Mexican-influenced phases. The rest of the music on the album is not quite so diverse, but much of it would be appealing for any concert audience. It's worth noting that the overtly Chinese-influenced piece, Dinos Constantinides' "China 1-Shanghai, Songs of Departure" (which sets the poetry of Li Po as translated by Ezra Pound), was not written by Chinese-born composer Stephen Yip. The latter's "Spirit Labyrinth II," exploring extended techniques possible on the harp, is strongly commended to players of that instrument. The North/South Chamber Orchestra does not have a silky-smooth string section but possesses enthusiasm to spare, manifested in part by a wide dynamic range.

Product Details

Release Date: 08/30/2011
Label: North / South Record
UPC: 0853975002551
catalogNumber: 1055


  1. Confrontación, for viola & orchestra
  2. Spirit Labyrinth II, for harp & orchestra
  3. China 1 - Shanghai, Songs of Departure, for voice & orchestra
  4. Serenata No.1 (Legados imaginarios), for orchestra
  5. Tango-Overture, for orchestra

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