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John von Rhein
Chicago Tribune, December 2003

"This year brought another bumper crop of interesting and important classical releases that confounded the gloom-and-doom merchants who have long been predicting the industry's demise. While there was a drop in new product from the majors (RCA, EMI, Sony, Universal Classics) amid rumors of impending mergers, the indies upped their share of the classical market, in part because of Internet sales. Knowledgeable consumers continued to rely on these smaller independent labels to produce quality performances of adventuresome repertory.

Ned Rorem's 80th birthday year has brought a spate of well-deserved tributes near and far and seems to have marked a creative watershed for the composer. This excellently played and recorded disc, holding three attractive chamber works from the 1970s and '80s, is a tribute to the enduring value of his melodic, expressive tonal language. One of the Ten Best Discs of 2003"

Jack Sullivan,
American Record Guide, August 2003

"Ned Rorem is a national treasure, and we can only be grateful for Naxos's continuing exploration of his work in its American Classics series. This well-recorded program of chamber music fro the 70s and 80s offers a variety of styles, moods, and colors, from the austere impressionism of Book of Hours (for flute and harp only) to the brittle jollity of End of Summer. All are played with verve and conviction by the British ensemble...Thanks to Naxos, I've been enjoying lots of Rorem..."

Hubert Culot
MusicWeb International, June 2003

"Rorem's approach is entirely his own. It may often take you by surprise, delight or irritate, but the composer's sureness of touch is never in doubt. The young players of the Fibonacci Sequence obviously enjoy the music and respond with zestful, committed readings of these sometimes enigmatic works."

Bill Brooks, June 2003

"Naxos, budget label extraordinaire, continues to find ways to promote and sell classical music to a public that seems hell bent on allowing the genre to fade away. In the days when even classical labels are more interested in promoting pretty faces than seeking out new talent, Naxos takes another path. They seek out talented orchestras that have yet to make a reputation for themselves and produce wonderful recordings, often of less popular scores... The performances of the British chamber ensemble, The Fibonacci Sequence, seem consistent throughout. The recording is quite good also, providing ample focus on individual instruments without losing the cohesiveness of the ensemble."

Josef Woodard
Los Angeles Times, April 2003

"Though deemed one of America's more treasured composers, Ned Rorem (b. 1923) is still in need of greater recorded documentation. This fine release, performed with care and fire by members of Britain's Fibonacci Sequence, helps to serve that end.

This set of chamber works illustrates Rorem's implicit belief that accessibility and appropriation don't have to be dirty words. Tonality and gentle dissonance dance and dodge, to engaging effect. Liturgical music is the root template, cleverly reworked, for "Book of Hours," for flute and quasi-celestial harp, and, in "End of Summer," varying shades of Americana interlace with echoes of Satie and Euro-salon sounds.

Shards of Chopin surface in his delicious and only slightly askew quintet piece, "Bright Music," its title indicating both the temperament of the writing and the mentality of its creator."

Andrew Farach-Colton
Gramophone, April 2003

"The performances by the Kingston University-based Fibonacci Sequence are consistently polished and persuasive...Very strongly recommended."

Anthony Burton
BBC Music Magazine, April 2003

"All three works prove intriguing and rewarding, with an unexpected emphasis on virtuosity."

Geoffrey Norris
The Telegraph, March 2003

Paul Driver
, March 2003

"Rorem is a superb composer of fast music. The outer movements of The End of Summer and of the aptly titled Bright Music have real élan."

Rob Barnett
MusicWeb International

"Production values are high and consistently so across performances, recording quality and documentation. Those who love the Ravel Introduction and Allegro, the Ropartz triptych and Baxs' Nonet should lose no time in tracking down this disc. Expect those voices to be moderated by the warmth of Samuel Barber (Summer Music and Knoxville) but ruffled from time to time (not half as often as you might expect) by the searing cinders of William Schuman. Fastidious elegance, lucidity of expression, waspish fury and the warmth of the sun. Go for it!"


"The playing is consistently well-prepared, perceptive, and...beautiful, and the recorded sound is handsome."

Scott Morrison

"I keep perhaps tiresomely reiterating how grateful we should be to Naxos for bringing things like these symphonies to us. But practically every month there is a release like this one--wonderful American classical music that we've never heard before, often never even heard of before, and in superb performances."

Joseph Dalton
Times Union

"Of his symphonic works, which total about 18, only three are numbered symphonies, and they all date from the 1950s. They've just been issued together on disc for the first time, with Jose Serebrier conducting the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. The beautifully recorded performances make a convincing case for the neglected works.

Rorem's gracious writing here puts him in the mainstream of the American tonalist school... But his symphonies are a little more fiery, even funkier, than say Harris or Creston, but not so obvious as Morton Gould...

Of particularly striking beauty is the opening movement of Symphony No. 2, which begins with a remarkably long but varied melody, primarily in the strings. At more than 15 minutes in length it is one of Rorem's longest continuous orchestral statements.

"Symphony is whatever you call it," says Rorem. "A symphony of Mahler is not the same as a symphony of Bach or Haydn. A layperson is always impressed by the word 'symphony' even if they've never heard one. ... I did (another) piece called Symphony for Strings for Robert Shaw and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. I should have called it Symphony No. 4. That would be about 1983. ... I would probably never write another piece called symphony."

That's too bad for collectors, but it's good that we have Rorem's three in such a fine new disc."

Lawson Taitte
The Dallas Morning News

"Ned Rorem's music, at least in the hands of these players, also sounds natural, beautiful and inevitable. Now a senior statesman among American composers, Mr. Rorem has long been famous for his art songs and his elegantly scandalous tell-all memoirs.

The title piece starts out with an extended violin solo that doesn't sound particularly "modern" at all. Eventually the piano and then the clarinet join in, spinning melodies as graceful as anything Jerome Kern or Robert Schumann ever turned out.

The Book of Hours, for flute and harp, is even more gorgeous. Mr. Rorem has spent a good deal of time in Paris. The influence of Debussy, Ravel, Satie and their followers is evident. But this is homage, not mere imitation. The cascading lines of harp glissandos and flute scales, alternating with slower reveries, build up their own kind of logic.

Bright Music, for a slightly larger group, feels denser and perhaps more conventional. In his title, Mr. Rorem gives notice that he is composing a latter-day divertimento, something light and social. Still, this is music with substance as well. Even those who think they are allergic to contemporary music may well find themselves charmed - nay, enchanted - by this disc."


"On this Naxos release, yet another fantastic addition to the American Classics series, the emphasis on Ned Rorem's chamber music. Renowned for his large output of art songs, his other efforts are often underappreciated. The three works collected on this disc, composed in the mid '70s and mid-to-late '80s, reveal a playful and lighthearted viewpoint not often associated with Rorem's persona. The music is uncomplicated and episodic, naturally evolving from moment to moment."

John Fleming
St. Petersburg Times

"The classical music world thinks of Ned Rorem as the pre-eminent American composer of art songs.

While Rorem the composer will be remembered most for his songs, he has also written widely in other genres, including symphonies, concertos, chamber music, choral works, operas and ballets. He won the 1976 Pulitzer Prize for his orchestral suite Air Music. Now Naxos has released a pair of well-performed discs of his instrumental music.

Rorem, who turned 80 in October, lived in Paris from 1949 to 1958, and his Third Symphony relates to those days. The composer has said he was "actively sad" when he wrote the five-movement piece as he prepared to move back to the United States; the slow fourth movement constitutes "a farewell to France."

His first three symphonies, played by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra under Jose Serebrier, are all from the '50s, and they are something of a discovery, blissfully listenable in a sweet, romantic sort of way, with a very high level of craftsmanship in the orchestration.

Of the chamber pieces, performed by the British ensemble Fibonacci Sequence, the most enjoyable is Bright Music (1987), a suite for flute, two violins, cello and piano. The five movements, Rorem says, were inspired by typically eclectic sources, including Picasso's blue period, a Chopin sonata and a Fandango based on the image of "a rat inside a can." A

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