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Fanfare, May 2006

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Classics CD Review, January 2006

Although she was born in 1940 (just three years after Philip Glass, two after Joan Tower and one after Ellen Taafe Zwillich) Margaret Brouwer will be a new name to many, although starting in the late ‘80s she began attracting kudos as a composer, then solidified her reputation during the ‘90s, and has become America’s foremost – and soon perhaps to be the most famous – distaff composer during the current decade. I have to confess her name was new to me until the release of this creatively vibrant and vividly performed disc from Liverpool by way of Naxos. The featured work is a percussion concerto – Aurolucent Circles in three movements – for the protean Evelyn Glennie, who gave the premiere at Seattle in 2002 with Gerard Schwarz conducting, as he does here with an orchestra he’s leaving at the end of the current season: Liverpool’s loss I’d say. With spatial writing, apart from Ms. Glennie at the center of action, it would seem to me a more suitable candidate for SACD than standard stereo, but even from two speakers Brouwer’s signature waves of sound from side to side and front to back are as startling as they are corruscating. As produced by Michael Ogonovsky and recorded by David A. Pigott, this is a new level of technical expertise from Merseyside. The dynamic range borders on awesome – from whispers of metal tintinnabulation that open the first movement, “Floating in Dark Space,” to whirligig outbursts engendered in third, “Cycles and Currents” (whose rhythmic basis is the 13th-Century “Fibonacci Number Series” – read the composer’s erudite program notes if you don’t know what that means). But the expressive crux of the work is its central and longest movement, “Stardance,” the first to be written, with “bells ringing in the solo percussion as well as the [orchestra section’s] percussion, positioned around the stage.... Inspired by the poetic physical motion of Evelyn Glennie when she performs,” Brouwer writes, “it became an important aim that there be motion as well as sound....The name Aurolucent Circles was inspired by the sparkling and lucent sound of so many of the percussion instruments used in the concerto. That, along with the circling of sound around the stage, brought to mind the aurora borealis (consisting of luminous meteoric streamers, bands, hazy curtains, and streamers of light in the night sky).” As for the virtuosic Ms. Glennie, who has commissioned some 200 works to date in her career, this one is very nearly top of the heap.



ClassicalCDReview.com, January 2006

Although she was born in 1940 (just three years after Philip Glass, two after Joan Tower and one after Ellen Taafe Zwillich) Margaret Brouwer will be a new name to many, although starting in the late ‘80s she began attracting kudos as a composer, then solidified her reputation during the ‘90s, and has become America’s foremost – and soon perhaps to be the most famous – distaff composer during the current decade. I have to confess her name was new to me until the release of this creatively vibrant and vividly performed disc from Liverpool by way of Naxos. The featured work is a percussion concerto – Aurolucent Circles in three movements – for the protean Evelyn Glennie, who gave the premiere at Seattle in 2002 with Gerard Schwarz conducting, as he does here with an orchestra he’s leaving at the end of the current season: Liverpool’s loss I’d say. With spatial writing, apart from Ms. Glennie at the center of action, it would seem to me a more suitable candidate for SACD than standard stereo, but even from two speakers Brouwer’s signature waves of sound from side to side and front to back are as startling as they are corruscating. As produced by Michael Ogonovsky and recorded by David A. Pigott, this is a new level of technical expertise from Merseyside. The dynamic range borders on awesome – from whispers of metal tintinnabulation that open the first movement, “Floating in Dark Space,” to whirligig outbursts engendered in third, “Cycles and Currents” (whose rhythmic basis is the 13th-Century “Fibonacci Number Series” – read the composer’s erudite program notes if you don’t know what that means). But the expressive crux of the work is its central and longest movement, “Stardance,” the first to be written, with “bells ringing in the solo percussion as well as the [orchestra section’s] percussion, positioned around the stage.... Inspired by the poetic physical motion of Evelyn Glennie when she performs,” Brouwer writes, “it became an important aim that there be motion as well as sound....The name Aurolucent Circles was inspired by the sparkling and lucent sound of so many of the percussion instruments used in the concerto. That, along with the circling of sound around the stage, brought to mind the aurora borealis (consisting of luminous meteoric streamers, bands, hazy curtains, and streamers of light in the night sky).” As for the virtuosic Ms. Glennie, who has commissioned some 200 works to date in her career, this one is very nearly top of the heap.






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9:44:06 PM, 17 September 2014
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