ADAM GORB (b.1958): Farewell, Scenes from Bruegel, Ascent, Towards Nirvana.
Catalogue Number: 08M090
Description: The symphonic wind orchestra tradition, not to be confused with the once-ubiquitous brass band, is nowhere near as widely established in the UK as in the USA. One of its major proponents is Gorb, who adopted it as a major creative outlet after first responding to a request for such a piece in 1992. The breadth and depth of his output is well demonstrated by this selection. Farewell is an extended symphonic adagio, somber and serious, referencing late Mahler in an intensely chromatic vocabulary full of conflict and contrast, heightened by timbral and spatial opposition of groups within the ensemble. Increasing tension leads to a momentary general pause and then in a stunning coup de théatre, the establishment of a tonal climax of Brucknerian resonance and power. The Scenes form a four-movement symphonic structure, evoking four of Bruegel's satirical depictions of human weakness ad folly. Pastiching archaic forms and folk styles in contemporary, though largely tonal, terms, the work is simultaneously lighthearted and entertaining, and bitterly ironic. Ascent is nature-painting, inspired by Swiss mountain landscapes, chill and remote. A strange combination of Sibelius and Vaughan Williams is suggested by the tonal language and richly evocative imagery and atmosphere. Towards Nirvana depicts a journey from the earthly toward heavenly enlightenment according to Buddhist principles. The jazzy, Bernsteinesque opening section, full of stabbing rhythms and seductive saxophones swept away by a brass chorale of slightly exaggerated seriousness, giving way to radiant Eastern pentatonic harmony in the work's closing sections. RNCM Wind Orchestra; Timothy Reynish, Clark Rundell, Mark Heron.