ELLIOT GOLDENTHAL (b.1954): Symphony in G Sharp Minor.
Catalogue Number: 08R009
Label: Zarathustra Music
Reference: ZM 008
Description: This piece falls well toward the tonal, neo-romantic end of the immensely versatile Mr Goldenthal's compositional spectrum, and everything we said about the splendid Othello Symphony (11Q008) last year applies here too; if you enjoyed that, you'll want this, even at the ungenerous length of 24 minutes (blame modern orchestral commissioning - the Pacific Symphony dictated a “no longer than 25 minutes” playing time). The work is in two movements, the first brooding and somber, limned in the darkest color palette; the second a tumultuously hyperkinetic orchestral toccata, interrupted by a section of threatening calm. The first movement suggests sonata form, with an extended development of the material from the beginning, in a manner reminiscent of Pärt's undulating tintinnabulary textures. The opening gesture, for strings and harp, evokes Mahler's Adagietto, but the immediate establishment of an oscillating minor third motif, which becomes a primary theme throughout the first movement, diverts the music in the direction of Philip Glass. The second movement begins with a four-note motif from the first movement, now presented as aggressive, martial fanfares over a motoric, driven accompaniment. This thematic fragment provides much of the material for the movement. The final section is given over to an assault by a spatially divided percussion battery; it's not the most intellectually satisfying part of the work's musical argument, but it certainly gets the blood racing. Pacific Symphony; Carl St. Clair.