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George Lloyd / Symphony No. 11
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George Lloyd Symphony No. 11
Albany Symphony Orchestra / George Lloyd, conductor
 
 "...We come now to what is perhaps the most impressive symphony of all, the Eleventh, commissioned and superbly played by the Albany Symphony Orchestra, again under the composer. It is in five movements, the first on the largest scale, but it is the Lento which shows Lloyd at the height of his lyrical powers and in its passionate, expansive romanticism it reminds me of Hanson's Romantic Symphony...The scherzo is exuberantly graceful, then there is dark funeral music before the exultant, optimistic finale. The performance has all the power and freshness of discovery of a masterwork and the recording is splendidly worthy of the music...." (Gramophone)

"All of Lloyd's recorded output is worth having, and 11 is as good a place to start as any, especially in so fine a performance and recording." (American Record Guide)

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George Lloyd Sym No. 4
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George lloyd Symphony No. 4 "Arctic"
Albany Symphony Orchestra / George Lloyd, conductor
George Lloyd’s Fourth Symphony is a remarkable work by any measure. Its composition was in itself a triumph of creative will over the most extreme mental and
physical hardship, and the music has a power which is both primitive and imaginative. Lloyd's ability to sweep the audience along, from muscular and energetic drama to serene and haunting tranquillity, would stand as a major achievement without taking into account the struggle which surrounded the work of composition.
 
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George Lloyd Sym. No. 1 and 12
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George lloyd Symphony No. 1 and 12
Albany Symphony Orchestra / George Lloyd, conductor
The two works brought together on this disk bookend British composer George Lloyd’s exceptional symphonic output: Symphony in A, his first effort in that form, in essence the starting point of his career, and the Twelfth Symphony, his last, written midway through the hard-won celebrity he achieved during his final score of years. Recorded soon after a concert featuring the American premiere of the former and the world premiere of the latter, and now remastered for this CD, both performances were given under the composer’s baton. Together they demonstrate his incontestable command of the orchestra, not just as a conductor but as a superb orchestrator who already as a youth knew how to make a large instrumental ensemble sing. More than that, they affirm that Lloyd’s great gift for lyricism—the hallmark of his talent—remained undiminished into his closing decade. To see George Lloyd on the podium even at that late date—jutting out his tough Celtic chin and tossing his mane of silver-white hair—one would hardly suspect that serious health concerns had dogged him throughout appreciable portions of his life. Born in 1913 in St. Ives, Cornwall, into a family quite comfortable of means and intensely keen on music, he suffered recurrent bouts of childhood rheumatic fever severe enough to delay his formal schooling until he was 12.
 "After a 20-year hiatus from composing for health reasons, 77-year-old English composer George Lloyd has enjoyed a musical rebirth during the past 15 years. This is true Romantic music, filled with the kinds of tunes found in music of an earlier age, but skillfully composed and orchestrated in a voice that is uniquely Lloyd's, not warmed-over Elgar as some critics have mistakenly claimed. The First Symphony dates from1932 when the composer was not yet 20; the 12th had its world premiere last March. Both are marvelous pieces and join the Fourth and Seventh Symphonies as the finest examples of Lloyd's work." (Top 10 of the Year, Daily Herald)

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Howard Hanson An American Romantic
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Howard Hanson An American Romantic
David Craighead/Rochester Chamber Orchestra/Brian Preston/Roberts Wesleyan College Chorale
Howard Hanson (1896-1981) was a distinguished American composer, educator and preeminent advocate of American music. He belonged to that select group of American composers born in the last decade of the nineteenth century - Walter Piston, Roger Sessions, Randall Thompson, Roy Harris, Virgil Thomson and Aaron Copland - who personified the emergence of American classical music as a distinctly national, as opposed to European, cultural force to be taken seriously. He was the leading practitioner of American musical Romanticism, much in the tradition of Jean Sibelius, Edvard Grieg and Carl Nielsen in Scandinavia. Hanson dedicated his professional life to the encouragement, creation and preservation of beauty in music, believing it to be an art form possessing unique power to ennoble both performer and listener, and, by extension, mankind. Throughout his career, Hanson never departed from his cherished ideals of beauty, clarity and simplicity of utterance and his conviction that musicians and audiences would respond openly to each other on this basis. He abhorred ugliness in music, dismissed as worthless intellectual abstraction for its own sake, and fought what he perceived to be the growing alienation between composer and audience. A lifetime of composition reflects this conviction, as did his lengthy tenure as a teacher and administrator.
 

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The Himalaya Sessions Vol. 1
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The Himalaya Sessions Vol. 1
Peter Halstead, piano
WHY THE HIMALAYAS? This six-volume series is one part of the story of a musician's life, which ended in the high mountains of Nepal. The second part will be published in a few volumes, titled Pianist Down. This will be an excursion through the elegant arcades and nocturnal souks of the musician's somewhat Gothic march through life. The third part is available in abbreviated form as photographs of the Himalayas taken by the pianist, some of which are on the SACD and the BD. More photographs can be seen in book form in the book, Monstrous Moraines: A Companion to The Himalaya Se.uions, in the bookstore on Blurb.com. An expanded volume of higher-quality photographs is forthcoming. A similar concert, in a different performance and with additional text, is available on DVD (see "Further Reading and Listening") That album was performed on an American Steinway,whereas this version is played on a Hamburg Steinway.Each piano was moved into a similar place in the center of its momentary monastic sanctuary and recorded similarly, so that the assiduous listener will be able to switch between discs and discover the much-bruited difference between pianos fashioned by sweating Americans or rivalsweating Germans. In fact, both pianos sound surprisingly similar, imitating Nabokov's remark that there is no difference between art and science, only between second- rate art and third-rate science-or something to that effect. There are no books in this brothel.
PROGRAM NOTES Birds weigh nothing at all, yet isn't it interesting that the currents of air which carry them from tree to tree only hint at the vast medium which must invisibly support such undeserving, lightheaded swallows, so that our shallows float on clandestine depths. I would think that similar massive underpinnings must uplift the pianist's short, relatively trivial time on stage, where each futile second is in fact the fecund wingtip, the toehold, the peeking eye, and the lurking peak of decades of gravity and despair.
NIGHT MUSIC When I think of Chopin's Nocturnes I think of that despairing French photo, maybe by Rene-Jacques, when the world was in black and white and every kiss was a matter of life or death, coming just after the war when the universal instinct was to make love in the ruins, and Paris was in ruins, as were people, so I think of that photo of the night flying down some rain-soaked stairs to the dark dirty banks of the Seine, dank underworld highways of sex and failure which surround us in our trench coats, glistening in the rain, on the run from the night, like Aznavour in Shoot the Piano Player, losers with lamplit halos, lovers of lost color, of daylight and dead music, trapped in the steel of cities destroyed by their own technologies, by the engines of war, knowing that leaves have been dead in the countryside for months, that nothing will come of the spring, that first love is the beginning of betrayal, but still the camera fliesdown the Fritz Lang steps of the storm, holding back all that despair, the small rooms of the night, renounced bythe vast clueless rage that moves the world, yet rhyming stillthe mesh of perfect marriages with dappled carriages, even though rhymes no longer matter to a society blown apart by weapons and the rain of rust, fog hurling itself around those filthy river walks where transvestites shiver in the litter, hoping even now that the chilling, stripping rain willbring auras to the streetlamps and that somewhere in the mist someone sings for real, all the decades of deceit ripped away,and there the photo stands, listening to night, waitingfor morning, for the flirting, restorative day, aim- . 13 . ing at tenderness despite the baggage of camp, the sniggers of the broken, strangifying and strangling the walking dumb, the busted, the aficionados disgusted with their own expertise, their inability to start over-it's all there in that photo, in the music of night, the Kantian echo of black and white, where everything is either true or false, before philosophers started to dicker, to recant (as Freud, Jung, Sartre, and Eliot all did), too late as always, their. doubts hushed by acolytes who were already profiting from their youthful mistakes: well, here's Chopin's rain again, washing out sores, and let's hope it scours all of us. In this most naked of confessions entrusted over the masking river swell of warm certainty where the conclusion of the right hand is as affirming as the left, what moves me are the harmonies sprung out of older leftovers, new subtleties invented from already dying notes, cascading and spiraling stairways entirely independent of rhythm, the busy demands of reality overcome with invention, the right hand in its own world, anchoring itself just in time in the river on the bottom, the gently flowing Danube of the salons never descending into those embarrassing gallery-opening cliches, keeping its own company and consequently its timelessness: never imitated, never solved, still hanging, small fragile scents in the summer air, too personal to become a slogan, a motto, a movement, too inner to be a theme. Chopin was never part of a school, a group, which explains perhaps his inability to be explained, uncovered, espoused, exposed, exhumed. No defense is the best defense, as grass bends to wind, as someone said of Chopin: flowers and cannons, where chords are as indefinable as clouds, too airy to be earthy; where tonality . 14 . defies reduction-to clarify it is to ruin it, the way roads destroy the delicate tapestry of fields, the way a flashlight illuminates the obvious and erases the subtle, diminishing as it enlarges. Let me become hysterical here. Musicians often keep pictures or stories in their minds to help them capture the mood they want, or conversely capture the mood by ignoring the piece, a bit like inner tennis where a mantra's purpose is to distract the player so the body can go about its business, that is, play it straight. So we by indirections find directions out. But to what extent do our inner programs, rather than distracting us, focus us on the programs themselves, which then replicate in the music, as if Marilyn Monroe, while pretending to be a peach to forget her fear, actually became a peach? Here in the Nocturne, from the start to the end, the constant bass notes descend like snow on a quiet Swiss village, while the melody imitates that bass with exactly the same notes, give or take a few, so that you can see Chopin in the process of inventing his melody from his accompaniment, the way Michelangelo said he found his sculptures by chipping away the stone that didn't belong to them. But maybe I am just snow-blind.
 

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This is the World
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