Of Rage And Remembrance (Chaconne Based Upon Symphony No. 1, Movt. 3)
Symphony No. 1: Apologue: Of Rage And Remembrance
Symphony No. 1: Tarantella
Symphony No. 1: Chaconne: Giulio's Song
Symphony No. 1: Epilogue
Corigliano's most famous piece of music is the score to the film Altered States. Actually, all of his music kind of sounds like that-- alternating moments of poignant lyricism with explosions of rhythmic energy. The son ... more »of the former concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic, Corigliano literally grew up around the orchestra. So it's no surprise that his music is orchestrated with almost preternatural skill and brilliance. The First Symphony, inspired in part by the AIDS tragedy, is both an angry and a moving work. Leonard Slatkin plays it with the kind of manic energy the music demands, and the sound quality is terrific. --David Hurwitz« less
Corigliano's most famous piece of music is the score to the film Altered States. Actually, all of his music kind of sounds like that-- alternating moments of poignant lyricism with explosions of rhythmic energy. The son of the former concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic, Corigliano literally grew up around the orchestra. So it's no surprise that his music is orchestrated with almost preternatural skill and brilliance. The First Symphony, inspired in part by the AIDS tragedy, is both an angry and a moving work. Leonard Slatkin plays it with the kind of manic energy the music demands, and the sound quality is terrific. --David Hurwitz
"It is amazing (although perhaps not once you hear this music) that a modern symphony dealing with a difficult and controversial issue like AIDS should be given not one, but TWO excellent recordings by major American orchestras (the other being the premiere recording with the Chicago Symphony and Daniel Barenboim). But that simply indicates the importance and magnitude of this piece. It is certainly one of the best symphonies by an American composer, possibly one of the greatest symphonies of the 20th century. And of the two recordings available, this is to my mind the finest. Slatkin's direction is much tighter, giving the faster more rhythmic sections more clout, whereas in Barenboim's version, the orchestra lacked that precision. Some might prefer Barenboim's Mahleresque sound (like an orchestra so big it can barely hold itself together) but Slatkin achieves amazing power through precision without sacrificing the work's epic breadth. As an added bonus, there is the choral work 'Of Rage and Remembrance' which you should listen to only after hearing the symphony."
Terrific absolute music too
Mark McCue | Denver, CO USA | 07/24/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The extra-musical considerations of these works are interesting in and of themselves, but they are in no way necessary for an understanding and enjoyment of these considerable achievements by Corigliano.The composer has come some way from the piano concerto that Hilde Somer recorded in San Antonio back in the late '60s. There is the same rythmic pulse, the same intense desire to innovate while remaining accessible. There's more content in ideas and art surrounding those ideas that remind me strongly of Penderecki, Panufnik,Rieti, Nicholas Flagello and Creston without in the least way being derivative. Corigliano, truly an original voice, deserves to be in such distinguished company.My only concern is that these works have been pinned as so occasional that they might meet the fate of period pieces, much as some of the fine 1970s works of Gould, Carter, or Gregg Smith: we don't hear them any more because they've been so oft-discussed and fraught with situational association.The National Symphony has mended its somewhat slack ways proliferated under the Slavka regime. Antal Dorati would have been proud to hear the exquisite execution DC's superlative orchestra affords these affecting works."
As powerful as your AIDS inolvement
Czinczar | Southeast Michigan, USA | 06/16/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"These works have to be viewed from two perspectives: as purely musical works and as personal reflections on the impact of AIDS. The Symphony is certainly strong enough to stand on its own merits. Are the struggles in it timeless enough to affect anyone in any age? I think so. It can transcend its programme if need be. The influence of Shostakovich on Corigliano is certainly evident here. So it's a winner from that perspective. And who better to conduct such a wrenching modern work than Slatkin? It should be noted that the recording of the Symphony is a LIVE, not STUDIO performance. What a concert it must have been! The tension in the audiance and orchestra is palpable. This live recording enhances the work's power. But what of the chaconne "Of Rage and Rememberance?" Can a work so completely wrapped up in the personal tragedy of AIDS speak to a listener like me, who has never suffered any AIDS losses? I must confess I felt disconected from it. All this angry mourning over people I'd never met or heard of. I felt as if I were intruding on someone else's tragedy. Maybe it won't affect you in the same way. Maybe its impact will be different for each person. You may find it heart-rending or just melodramatic. I don't know. I'll leave that decision to you."
Angry and spiritual music
Brett A. Kniess | Madison, WI | 01/23/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It is interesting, at a time when we are seeing compositions written about, dedicated to, and in memory of those lost in the September 11th terrorist attacks and the subsequent reactions, to go back to works written about WWI, WWII, and other wars that inspired so many great works. This CD of John Corigliano's Symphony No. 1, is a personal reaction to the loss of friends and family to the AIDS epidemic, during a time, a decade or two ago, when AIDS was a worldwide headline and crisis (It still is today, really). The image of the AIDS quilt on the cover of the CD brings back many of the feelings the nation had at that time. This highly personal and intense symphony spurned a 12-minute cantata based on the symphony's 3rd movement, which vocalizes with words, the powerful impact of the loss of life to AIDS.
Each movement of the 40-minute Symphony No. 1, has a personal reference to someone Corigliano has lost to AIDS. The opening movement is subtitled Of Rage and Remembrance, and the rage can be seen on page 1 with a score marking of "ferocious". Aleatoric elements give a fearful tone: playing with string vibratos, odd wind rhythms, brass slidings, and percussion clatterings. The Rage section also has instrumental instructions such as hysterical and nasty, which lead into the cacophonous poundings. The middle section has long sustained strings, but in the distance, is an off-stage piano playing Issac Albeniz's tango, a favorite piece of one of Corigliano's pianist friends. The dissonant strings continue the minds' rage (almost creepily) while the remembrance in a fog is represented in the tonal and major-mode piano work. The opening hysteric poundings and aleatoric elements return, but all ends with the distant piano, as if in a distant memory. The second movement is a tarantella, an Italian dance form, taken from a set of piano pieces. The tarantella was dedicated to a friend who eventually succumbed to the AIDS virus. A bouncy and tuneful theme is varied amongst more aleatoric extra-musical devices, like string and brass glissandi and constant speeding and slowing of the dance tempi, often give way to freneticism. The horrific and often grotesque dance is attributed to his friends' madness as a direct result of the disease. The third movement's melody, subtitled Giulio's Song, was taken from a tape Corigliano was reviewing of he and his friend, Giulio Sorrentino, improvising at college in 1962. Giulio also died of AIDS, and the cello, he was an amateur cellist, represents his friend. With long sustained chords, Corigliano adds soloists, and printed in the score, remembers other friends who have died from AIDS with each solo entrance. Eventually the pounding and throbbing from the first movement, reprised in the second movement, finds its way here too. The short fourth movement epilogue is announced by sustained falling brass clusters and a reprise of the Albeniz piano solo, cello solo, and other previous themes, ending in the finally silenced cello solo. Scored for large orchestra, a large battery of percussion (including anvil, flexatone, whistle, whip, and ratchet) a string section including mandolins, the music is intense, often dissonant mixed with polytonality, and exhibiting great tunefulness with energetic rhythmical themes, not to mention many "chance" techniques. The music is highly personal and intense.
The accompanying 12-minute cantata, scored for low strings, chorus, solo mezzo, chimes, and timpani, is entitled Of Rage and Remembrance and opens with an impassioned mezzo solo, a vivid textual depiction of Corigliano's feelings in the symphony. Various soloists recall Corigliano's friends who died and were marked in the symphony's score of the 3rd movement. The chorus, in musical aleatory, recall those they personally lost to AIDS through chanting; and in a haunting ending, a lone boy soprano quotes Psalm 23 in Hebrew. Perhaps even more moving than the actual symphonic movement, Of Rage and Remembrance is a deeply-felt addition to the disk.
Leonard Slatkin and the National Symphony Orchestra out of Washington DC with various Washington choruses and soloists, give sincere and electric performances. Sonically and overall, this RCA disk surpasses the earlier world premier on Erato with the Chicago Symphony under Barenboim with Slatkin's extroverted style. Even though this work was written in the late 1980's and first performed in the early 1990's, the subject and intense personal connection holds up. Gritty and sentimental, the symphony is a masterpiece."