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Milton A. Caine
American Record Guide, December 2000

"In this age of ecumenism, it is not surprising to find a composition titled Menorah by a musician named James Wilson in a series devoted to Irish composers... .like Max Bruch's Kol Nidrei, [Menorah] pays homage to the Jewish spirit.

"Menorah is the composer's tribute to the children who perished in the Holocaust. It is a deeply moving, heartfelt, even heartbreaking composition. Strong and stirring, it pits the viola's elegiac voice against deep and dark orchestral forces. The solo instrument, superbly handled by Constantin Zanidache, in turn pleads, laments , reflects, and despairs; the orchestra rarely heeds. The tension between the two forces is often gripping. This is indeed music that is deeply felt and moving and finally heroic.

"Concertino runs for a little over 13 minutes and is neatly sandwiched between the viola and violin concertos. Composed in only one movement, it uses the orchestra mainly in groupings and sections rather than en masse. Lighter in substance than the preceding work and not as romantically inclined as the one that follows, it grows progressively lighter in sound and substance as it goes, and conveys its feelings and its message with a minimum of melody and by relying on various orchestral timbers.

"Actually, the last work, the violin concerto, is the most melodic and the most charming. The longest in time (just under 27 minutes) and quite romantic in content, it was written for and dedicated to the soloist who performs it here. The title comes from a poem by George Peele and is used by the composer as a spring-board for a fanciful, intricate display of color and humor, with smaller forces than in the two preceding works. Alan Smale is the leader of the National Symphony of Ireland. Both he and conductor Colman Pearce do a superb job. The orchestra plays splendidly, and the recorded sound is rich as well as crystal-clear. Let's hope we will hear more of James Wilson's music in the near future."





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