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David Olds
The WholeNote, August 2012

What drew me to the disc was the Symphony No.3 “Journey Without Distance”…While the symphony is a striking work featuring soprano Faith Esham as the “voice of as angel” in a transcendent text by Helen Schucman, it was The Awakened Heart, a purely instrumental work…which captured my attention. It dates from 1990 and is a dramatic and often exuberant work… © 2012 The WholeNote Read complete review

Paul Corfield Godfrey
MusicWeb International, August 2012

…delivered by Schwarz and the orchestra with full commitment and plenty of passion.

…the music is well worth getting to know. Danielpour has established quite a reputation in America, but this has not translated into the renown in the rest of the world which has attended the music of John Adams for example. Once the Stravinskian echoes are past, there is a fresh and responsive approach to traditional musical vocabulary which strikes an immediate response from the listener. Danielpour is not afraid to tackle big subjects: the text for the Third Symphony is drawn from A course in miracles ‘scribed’ and anonymously published by Helen Schucman, a Columbia University professor of medical psychology; her authorship, from dictation by an ‘inner voice’, was not revealed until after her death. The climactic phrases bring an almost Wagnerian expansiveness, which tax Esham’s basically lyric resources to the limit—but apart from a generalised sense of ecstasy, we can understand very little of the words that are being sung.

The purely orchestral First light and The awakened heart also derive from deeply felt poetical models. The first is based on verses by Robert Duncan, and its four sections contrast violent neo-Stravinskian passages with some really effective quiet reflections which—if the gift for melodic distinction were better marked—might be taken for Vaughan Williams.

A chorale also serves as the basis for the second movement of The awakened heart, entitled Epiphany. This is a really beautiful piece of writing, with rhapsodic outpourings surrounding the melody itself.

Danielpour deserves to be better known; for, despite the obvious stylistic debts to Stravinsky, his individual sense of purpose and command of his technique are highly impressive. We should be grateful to Naxos for rescuing these recordings from oblivion, but we really do need the texts in music like the Third Symphony. Could they not please be put on the company’s website? © 2012 MusicWeb International Read complete review, June 2012

On the basis of this Naxos CD, a great deal of Danielpour’s work visits and revisits the dichotomy of intensity and serenity: the third piece here, First Light (1988), also contrasts hypnotic, chant-like elements with rhythmically intense ones. Soprano Faith Esham handles the text of the symphony (by Helen Schucman and William Thetford) sensitively and with understanding, and Gerard Schwarz and the Seattle Symphony are commendably involved in Danielpour’s emotional outpourings. © 2012 Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, June 2012

The music of Richard Danielpour has been slow crossing the Atlantic into Europe, though he is one of today’s most oft performed composers in his native America. Educated initially as a pianist, he subsequently studied composition at The Julliard School with Vincent Persichetti and Peter Mennin, though he was to take little from their school of composition, often described as ‘the new Romanticism’. As we hear in three works conceived in the late 1980’s—by which time he was in his thirties—he writes in the style I refer to as ‘modern tonality’, where he can move between traditional tonality and the remnants of atonality. There is thematic material, but it is strongly geared to rhythm rather than melody, as we hear in the opening track, First Light. Commissioned by Gerard Schwarz for the Seattle orchestra, it flirts with the repetitive qualities of minimalism in a score of widely changing dispositions, closing in a quiet and sacred mode. The Awakening Heart, in three contrasting movements, continues in very much the same style as the earlier work. Its scoring, often hard-hitting and driven by strong rhythms, only offering respite in the central Epiphany. The full background to the Third Symphony, subtitled Journey Without Distance, is told in the enclosed bookle…It is set in a dream world, the two sections scored for soprano, chorus and orchestra. Again it is rhythmically driven, the soprano often taken very high, while the chorus only appears briefly in the work’s later moments. Recordings date from 1991 and were originally released on the Delos label, their appearance on Naxos being part of a Seattle Symphony retrospective. Performances and the punchy sound engineering serve Danielpour admirably. © 2012 David’s Review Corner

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