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Daniel Coombs
Audiophile Audition, May 2012

His [Stephen Albert] style was one of the first that became coined—by some—as the “New Romanticism”.  Albert and the many subsequent others who seem to fit this category were writing music that sought to “revive” the art of melody and lush, concordant harmonies.

His In Concordium for violin and orchestra, heard here in a wonderful performance by violinist Ilkka Talvi and the Seattle Symphony, is a perfectly satisfying example. This is a very engaging work with a simply wonderful solo part.

Albert had a fascination with the works of Irish poet and novelist James Joyce, having written several pieces on themes inspired by Joyce. I was best familiar with Albert’s music, in fact, through his Symphony River Run (inspired by Joyce’s “Finnegan’s Wake”). Albert’s song cycle TreeStone, heard here, is scored for soprano, tenor and small orchestra. These songs, taken from Joyce’s final novel, are a reflection—as was the Joyce source material—on the Tristan and Isolde legend (in its Celtic original; “Tristan and Iseult”). The writing is excellent and this work, as a whole, is a very unusual but fascinating song cycle.

This is a really fine work that carries raw emotion as well as some very heady food for thought. Soprano Lucy Shelton has an international reputation as an interpreter of contemporary vocal music and tenor David Gordon is best known for Baroque music and conveys the tone of this score wonderfully. The New York Chamber Symphony performs with conviction and Gerard Schwarz is a gifted interpreter of modern music, clearly familiar with that of Stephen Albert.  This is a really nice disc and I do strongly recommend it to anyone. In particular, this would make a very satisfying introduction to Stephen Albert’s music—which deserves more attention. © 2012 Audiophile Audition Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, April 2012

Stephen Albert was one of the pioneers of that group of American composers who returned to the basics of tonality and created links with Romantic era. It was a movement readily accepted by audiences disenfranchised from music that had its roots in the Second Viennese School. Commissions from major orchestras established Albert as one of the major American composers of his era, and he was soon to take up the post of Composer in Residence of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra. Tragically Albert was to die in an automobile accident in 1992 at the early age of fifty-one. …In Concordiam…comes from the last part of his life and is scored for violin solo and orchestra, and is much in Albert’s style—generous in its weight and outgoing in its virtuosity from the soloist. In one continuous movement, lasting around seventeen minutes, it has a long cadenza, the whole built from several contrasting moods. The disc’s major work that extends to almost forty minutes, TreeStone, was completed three years earlier, and sets to music the words of six poems by James Joyce on the legend of Tristan and Iseult. At times it is Mahlerian, then something akin in Britten, and—though Albert would not have thanked me for saying—there is a flirtation with Alban Berg, as the highly charged work moves between the soprano and tenor voice. Lucy Shelton and David Gordon are the reliable soloists with the New York Chamber Symphony in fine form for the conductor, Gerard Schwarz. Late 1980’s sound of good quality. An inexpensive way to discover a little known composer. © David’s Review Corner

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