STEPHEN MCNEFF (b.1952): Sinfonia, Heiligenstadt, Secret Destinations, Weathers for Chorus and Orchestra.
Catalogue Number: 06O076
Label: Dutton Epoch
Reference: CDLX 7301
Description: These works date from 2005-07 and were all written for the Bournemouth Symphony while McNeff was their "Composer in the House", a post which had him spending much time with all parts of the organization resulting most obviously here in many soloistic parts for various orchestral players in all four of these pieces - "custom-fitted" as it were. Everything is quite tonal and very approachable, Sinfonia being a 15-minute concert-opener inspired by the three-movement Classical symphonies of late 18th-century England, each movement with its own personality - quiet yet flowing, calm and lyrical, and fast and boisterous. Heiligenstadt was commissioned to precede Beethoven's Fifth and quotes some of his lieder, opening in a dream-like state with these half-remembered snatches of melody floating along, building to a Beethovenian "triumph over adversity" climax before a ghostly fading away. Weathers sets four Hardy poems in a through-composed 16-minute work of often theatrical color (nice storm scene!) while Secret Destinations is an in memoriam piece for a poet-friend, Charles Causley, whose three movements are inspired by his travels with McNeff to the Rocky Mountains and the chapel at Assisi and close with a movement inspired by Causley looking at a faded photograph of his parents picnicking by a stream before he was born - all of which is depicted in atmospherically appropriate, colorful orchestral language. No texts. Bournemouth Symphony Chorus and Orchestra; Dominic Wheeler.