Jack Gallagher and JoAnn Falletta record second disc with the London Symphony Orchestra
October 29, 2013
Composer Jack Gallagher and GRAMMY® Award-winning conductor JoAnn Falletta recorded their second collaborative disc for Naxos on September 2 and 3, 2013 at Blackheath Halls, London. The new release, produced by GRAMMY® Award-winner Tim Handley, includes Gallagher’s Symphony No 2 (“Ascendant”), a four-movement work lasting nearly one hour, and Quiet Reflections, a lyrical single-movement work.
Concerning the new recording, Gallagher says:
“It was a great joy to undertake this second recording for Naxos with JoAnn Falletta and the superlative London Symphony Orchestra. I have revered the LSO since purchasing, as a senior in high school, their iridescent recording of Stravinsky’s’ Petrouchka conducted by Eugene Goosens. The colour and vibrancy of Stravinsky’s magical score performed by the LSO seemed intoxicating, instilling in me an admiration, passion, and enduring love for the sound world of the symphony orchestra. That the Symphony No 2 (“Ascendant”) has been brought to life by this brilliant ensemble conducted by Maestra Falletta is, for me, reason for rejoicing.
For nearly 50 years, I have loved deeply the thrilling, magnificent voice of the orchestral medium. As a young, aspiring trumpet player in the late 1960s, I was privileged to perform for two seasons in New York with the Orchestra of the National Orchestral Association, conducted by John Barnett and Leon Barzin. The NOA was an eminent training orchestra analogous, perhaps, to the Chicago Civic Symphony or today’s New World Symphony in Miami. In the course of the NOA’s three-to-four weekly rehearsals at New York’s City Center, weekly broadcasts over WNYC-FM in New York, and eight performances at Carnegie Hall, I was thrilled to perform such magisterial repertoire as Shostakovich’s Symphony No 10, Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances, Holst’s The Planets, Hindemith’s Symphonic Metamorphosis on Themes of Weber, Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloe Suite No 2, Strauss/Dorati’s Rosenkavalier Suite, and many more.
During dress rehearsals of works in which trumpets weren’t required I often listened from the boxes or Dress Circle in Carnegie Hall, keenly aware that the beneficent spirits of Tchaikovsky, Dvořák and Mahler, who experienced triumphs in this legendary space, hovered nearby. From the boxes, exulting in the glorious sonorities conjured from the orchestra by the great masters, I hoped that it might prove possible, someday, for me to compose for this grand medium. Now, 45 years later, I am humbled that my Symphony No 2 has been recorded for Naxos by such magnificent performers, and I am grateful to everyone who made it possible.”
Symphony No 2 (“Ascendant”) was composed between 2010 and 2013. In traditional four-movement format, it is scored for piccolo, two flutes, two oboes, two clarinets, bass clarinet, two bassoons, four horns, three trumpets, three trombones, tuba, timpani, two percussionists, harp and strings. Thematic connections link material among the movements. Various integrating gestures, such as initiating each movement with prominent material for the horns, are employed throughout.
The opening movement marked “Boldly” embraces, in 868 measures, a sonata form of broad proportions. Principal elements include an abrupt ascending flourish in horns leading to an upwardly-leaping motive in woodwinds accompanied by swirling figurations in strings and brasses. The second subject is a lyrically “exotic” statement, marked “Buoyantly; gently,” played by the solo oboe and harp. An imitative alarum in the brass ushers-in the exposition’s conclusion. Following a brief slowing of the tempo, the development revisits the opening material and is succeeded by an agitated episode for trombones and tuba based on the movement’s initial gesture accompanied by agitated unison strings. Three trumpets break into an affectionate homage to Petrouchka prior to a continually rising, overlapping and sustained brass passage. A fourth, final, coda ends robustly with the opening theme in the brass.
Marked “Slowly,” the second movement is an extended aria in three-part form. Above a quietly murmuring background, first violins intone a broad, disjunct rising motive whose initial melodic interval recalls the upwardly-leaping gesture heard early in the first movement. Murmurs in the winds erupt into florid solos for flute and clarinet prior to a codetta and transition. The middle section features plaintive solos for oboe and flute before culminating in a climactic outburst for brass and timpani sounded against agitated figurations in winds and strings. Following a peroration for the full ensemble, a short transition returns to the quiet opening material, marked by a new counter-motif in the first violins. In a second climactic episode, the florid wind solos of the first section are rendered passionately by tutti strings above a cortege-like timpani ostinato prior to the coda’s final diminuendo, beneath which is heard a fading guiro.
The third movement, marked “Playfully,” is a scherzando outlining a freely palindromic structure of ABCD E DBA. Sections are connected by short ritornelli. Within this scheme, “C” is a quasi-minimalistic development of the scherzando’s opening motive: it is omitted in the movement’s second half. “E,” the movement’s structural center, is a brief fugato based on the ritornello’s inversion. The sportive nature of these devices seeks to affirm the movement’s playful quality.
Symphony No 2, ‘As Sparks Fly Upward’ – III. Playfully (excerpt)
The finale is marked “Slowly-Energetically-Fast-Moderately-Fast.” Following a misterioso opening of trilling high strings and harp, horns in pairs intone colloquies—themselves based on the ending of the first movement’s opening flourish—heard previously in the second movement’s coda. Pulsating triplets in woodwinds, interrupted by solos in the trumpet and bassoon, yield to an energetic transition, itself succeeded by the “Fast” main body of the finale.
Symphony No 2, ‘As Sparks Fly Upward’
IV. Slowly-Energetically-Fast (beginning)
Symphony No 2, ‘As Sparks Fly Upward’
(‘Fast’ - towards the end)
The symphony’s title, “Ascendant” refers, in addition to the upwardly-leaping gesture at the work’s beginning, to elevated aspirations of the human spirit.
Quiet Reflections (formerly, A Quiet Musicke), completed in 1996, was composed for the 80th anniversary season of the Wooster (Ohio) Symphony Orchestra, Jeffrey Lindberg, Music Director. Following the composition of Proteus Rising from the Sea—an aggressive, energetic work commissioned and recorded by the Air Force Band of Flight—it aspires to inhabit an entirely different sound world. Gently lyrical in design, Quiet Reflections is an 11-minute work in one movement that endeavors to evoke a sense of longing for past tranquility, calm and serenity.
Structurally, the work is in three-part form. It begins with a tolling bell, punctuating a soliloquy for solo horn. A wistful motive in strings and winds gains in intensity and, after a pause, is followed by a reflective second theme, marked religioso, in the strings.
The contrasting middle section is in two episodes. The first begins with a habanera-like ostinato in the harp and violins, joined by woodwinds and culminating in a brief passage for trombones and timpani. The second episode follows a link in the solo bassoon with passages for clarinets, solo trumpet, and horn.
An abridged return of the calm material from the beginning marks the third section. The reappearance of the horn and bell are followed by a final statement of the religioso theme in the strings, after which the work fades quietly.
Funding for this recording was provided, in part, by Ethel L. and John J. Gallagher and by Muriel R. and Robert G. Schaffeld.
Jack Gallagher’s Symphony No 2 (“Ascendant”) and Quiet Reflections will be released in 2014 on Naxos American Classics, available worldwide on disc and as digital downloads.
Engineer Philip Rowlands, producer Tim Handley, conductor JoAnn Falletta and composer Jack Gallagher
JoAnn Falletta and London Symphony Orchestra recording session on 3 September 2013
Jack Gallagher Biography & Discography
JoAnn Falletta Biography & Discography
London Symphony Orchestra Biography & Discography