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GALLAGHER, J.: Symphony No. 2, "Ascendant" / Quiet Reflections (London Symphony, Falletta)


Naxos 8.559768

   Fanfare, May 2017
   The Classical Reviewer, November 2015
   Fanfare, November 2015
   ClevelandClassical, September 2015
   Cleveland Plain Dealer, June 2015
   Gramophone, June 2015
   MusicWeb International, May 2015
   Fanfare, May 2015
   Fanfare, May 2015
   Fanfare, May 2015
   Fanfare, May 2015
   Fanfare, May 2015
   Classical Net, April 2015
   Classicalsource.com, April 2015
   WTJU, March 2015
   WTJU, March 2015
   Hawaii Public Radio, March 2015
   Audiophile Audition, March 2015
   Harry’s classical music corner, February 2015
   Cinemusical, February 2015
   Classical Net, February 2015
   David's Review Corner, February 2015
   The WSCL Blog, February 2015
   Classical Lost and Found, January 2015
   Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review, January 2015
   Percorsi Musicali, January 2015
   AllMusic.com, January 2015
   Records International, January 2015
   Infodad.com, December 2014

English        Italian
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David DeBoor Canfield
Fanfare, May 2017

JoAnn Falletta and the London Symphony Orchestra must be especially singled out for their compelling rendition of this work. The manifold tempos (and their relationships to each other) in this work seem absolutely compelling to my ears, and the orchestra turns in an impeccable performance. I have to say I consider this symphony to be one of the 10 greatest such works ever written by an American composer, and also one of the 10 greatest written by any composer in the last 50 years. © 2017 Fanfare Read complete review



Bruce Reader
The Classical Reviewer, November 2015

This is a symphony of major proportions and content, one of the finest to come out of America for a long time. A beautiful tapestry of orchestral sound. A real outpouring of orchestral beauty. Gallagher has a strong sense of form as well as a real ear for instrumental colour. There are some spectacularly fine woodwind arabesques. Some most glorious orchestral textures. (Quiet Reflections) is a most lovely work. JoAnn Falletta draws first class performances from the London Symphony Orchestra who receive a very fine, detailed recording that reveals all of Gallagher’s fine orchestration. There are excellent booklet notes from the composer. (An) excellent new disc. © 2015 The Classical Reviewer Read complete review




Merlin Patterson
Fanfare, November 2015

Jack Gallagher’s captivating Symphony No. 2 is quite simply one of the most powerful and moving symphonic statements I have experienced from a work composed in the 21st century. © 2015 Fanfare Read complete review



Daniel Hathaway
ClevelandClassical, September 2015

A signal achievement. A resplendent, hour-long work that scarcely flags in energy, never wants for inventive themes, and uses all the resources of the modern symphony orchestra with skill and ingenuity.

JoAnn Falletta leads tight performances of both works. This recording shows the orchestra off with transparency and presence. The many wind and brass solos are elegantly played.

American symphony orchestras should make haste to program Gallagher’s second symphony. Think of it as Mahler without neuroses. What an attractive idea! © 2015 ClevelandClassical



Zachary Lewis
Cleveland Plain Dealer, June 2015

A work of staggering, unending brilliance, abundant in both creativity and technical finesse. On top of that, the LSO turns in a virtuoso performance that renders Gallagher’s opus in all its dynamic, volatile, colorful glory. © 2015 Cleveland Plain Dealer Read complete review



Andrew Achenbach
Gramophone, June 2015

It’s hard not to be won over by the prodigious energy, long-term thinking and melodic fecundity of Gallagher’s exuberant inspiration, to say nothing of the breathtaking skill and swaggering confidence with which he handles his forces. JoAnn Falletta directs with contagious dedication and encourages the LSO to give of its considerable best; indeed, these players would appear to be having a ball, with standout contributions from the flute and horn principals in particular. Phil Rowlands, too, can be proud of the splendiferously sumptuous, detailed and wide-ranging sound he has achieved within the helpful acoustic of Blackheath Concert Halls. In other words, if you like the sound of all of this, don’t hesitate for a moment. © 2015 Gramophone Read complete review



Stephen Francis Vasta
MusicWeb International, May 2015

Unmistakably late-to-post-twentieth-century in idiom. The first movement is active and full of character. Rhythmic gestures, whirling figures and repeated-note patterns…provide a bounding rhythmic impetus. (Quiet Reflections) grows cautiously affirmative, adding whirling woodwind flourishes. It’s lovely. (JoAnn Falletta) shapes the music with a (literal) sure hand. Even if you think you’re allergic to "new music", give this a listen. © 2015 MusicWeb International Read complete review



Merlin Patterson
Fanfare, May 2015

Jack Gallagher’s Symphony No. 2 is quite simply, a knockout. One of the most powerful and moving symphonic statements I have experienced from a work composed in the 21st century. The first movement opens with an explosion of rustling, nervous energy that immediately made me think of Bartók’s The Miraculous Mandarin.  The finale…(overflows) with attractive ideas and brings the entire symphony to a thrilling and convincing conclusion. Quiet Reflections…(exhibits) gorgeous intertwining melodies, lush harmonies, and ear-caressing orchestral colors. Falletta projects a clear vision of the two works. This disc makes an extremely powerful statement and stands as a glowing testament to Gallagher’s creative art. Highly recommended! © 2015 Fanfare Read complete review



Jerry Dubins
Fanfare, May 2015

A major contribution to the 21st-century symphonic literature.  The music is indeed uplifting, even ennobling. The London Symphony Orchestra…plays spectacularly well and beautifully for JoAnn Falletta. I’d love to see a new symphony as significant…as this, composed by an important American symphonist, taken up by a major American orchestra. Put this new Naxos release right at the top of your shopping list. © 2015 Fanfare Read complete review



Ronald E. Grames
Fanfare, May 2015

(Striking) directness and beauty, a combination not universally embraced in contemporary music. The composer…often makes his points through subtle gesture and meticulously wrought detail or counterpoint. Quiet Reflections, (is an) absolutely exquisite gem of a work. The extraordinary musicians project the music with great feel for idiom and intent. The engineering is no less impressive. © 2015 Fanfare Read complete review



Phillip Scott
Fanfare, May 2015

Any music student would kill to learn orchestration from Gallagher. His writing for orchestra is assured, imaginative, and exciting. Orchestras love working with material as well crafted as this. A great deal of my enthusiasm is due to the rich, characterful playing of the LSO under the direction of JoAnn Falletta. Recording quality is vivid and realistic; kudos to producer Tim Handley and engineer Phil Rowlands. Works such as Gallagher’s Second Symphony and Quiet Reflections need to be recorded, heard repeatedly, and “learned.” I would eagerly attend any concert that programmed this symphony in place of yet another Tchaikovsky Pathetique. © 2015 Fanfare Read complete review



Colin Clarke
Fanfare, May 2015

Expertly scored, exuberant music. The sheer exuberance of the final measures of the first movement certainly seems to imply a joy of life itself. The scoring is masterly, with myriad deft woodwind touches in particular. Gallagher seems absolutely at home with such a large-scale structure. One wonders whether the performers were given a luxury amount of rehearsal time, so tight is the ensemble. All credit to JoAnn Falletta for presenting Gallagher’s scoring so effectively. World premiere recordings…fully deserving of attention. The recording, too (by Tim Handley and Phil Rowlands), is top rank. © 2015 Fanfare Read complete review



Robert Cummings
Classical Net, April 2015

An epic character and heroic sense that bespeak a deep expressive manner. This is a big work with a purpose and colorful personality, almost taking on a whole world of expression. He is one of the more original contemporary composers you’re likely to encounter. The symphony’s twenty-minute first movement, marked Boldly, bristles with energy. The development section is quite imaginative in its colorful orchestration and handling of the thematic materials. JoAnn Falletta seems to have a total emotional and intellectual grasp on Gallagher’s style. The London Symphony Orchestra plays with great commitment and spirit for her. The sound reproduction is excellent. The symphony may well stand alongside some of the better ones by American composers from previous generations. Gallagher…may well come to be regarded as one of the more important American composers from the turn of the century era. © 2015 Classical Net Read complete review



Colin Anderson
Classicalsource.com, April 2015

This is my first encounter with (Gallagher’s) music and I want to hear more. Certainly this release graces Naxos’s American Classics series with distinction. Symphony No. 2 seems remarkably spontaneous, free-flowing from the pen of a quick-thinking and assured creator. There is an attractive fluidity to this music. The ideas are inventive and thoroughly well developed. The varied and brilliant scoring is deftly impressive, keeping the ear entranced. The music…reach(es) its aspiration in pulsating and thrilling terms. With the LSO in top form and with a notable rapport with JoAnn Falletta…, recorded sound that is vivid, and with the composer in attendance, this can be counted as definitive performances of both works. © 2015 Classicalsource.com Read complete review



Ralph Graves
WTJU, March 2015

A world-class orchestra and conductor. The results are stunning. JoAnn Falletta and the London Symphony Orchestra perform with assurance, bringing out all the expressive energy of the music. (Gallagher’s) first-hand practical knowledge of the orchestra is apparent in his scoring. Quiet Reflections deserves…serious airplay. © 2015 WTJU Read complete review



Ralph Graves
WTJU, March 2015

What better way to present a new work than with a world-class orchestra and conductor? Jack Gallagher’s second symphony gets such a treatment, and the results are stunning. JoAnn Falletta and the London Symphony Orchestra perform with assurance, bringing out all the expressive energy of the music. © 2015 WTJU Read complete review



Hawaii Public Radio, March 2015

Stunning premiere recording of a work that can proudly take its place among the great American symphonies. Another winner from JoAnn Falletta! © 2015 Hawaii Public Radio




Steven Ritter
Audiophile Audition, March 2015

Jack Gallagher’s series continues with this monumental and splendid Second Symphony.

[He] is fortunate to have to advocacy of one of the best conductors in the world today, JoAnn Falletta, at the helm of the splendid London Symphony. Definitely a keeper! This is a true “American Classic”—let’s hope Naxos realizes this composer’s importance, and continues on… © 2015 Audiophile Audition Read complete review



Harry van der Wal
Harry’s classical music corner, February 2015

A state of the art recording. A front to back recording with immense depth and detail. A very fine symphony. It should have a well deserved success. Quiet Reflections is an éclatant success, as is the whole CD. © 2015 Harry’s classical music corner Read complete review




Steven A. Kennedy
Cinemusical, February 2015

…JoAnn Falletta’s commitment to modern orchestral repertoire is exemplary. It is beyond rare for a major symphony to tackle a new work of this magnitude and with the resulting level of excellence and interpretation one gets with the London Symphony Orchestra. This is another great release in Naxos’s continuing support of modern American music and an accessible new symphony worth one’s time. A wonderful introduction to a great symphonic American voice. © 2015 Cinemusical Read complete review



R. James Tobin
Classical Net, February 2015

…Jack Gallagher’s new symphony is a masterpiece. Quiet Reflections is also a very satisfying piece, and aptly named.

Quiet Reflections is downright beautiful.

This CD has earned my highest recommendation. © 2015 Classical Net Read complete review



David Denton
David's Review Corner, February 2015

Jack Gallagher’s immensely likeable music is the antithesis of the modernist group of composers, and comes in direct lineage of the melodic music of yesteryear. There is something of his mentor, Aaran Copland, in the big and bold sweep of the Second Symphony completed in 2013, its subtitle ‘Ascendant’ referring to, as Gallagher’s sleeve note makes clear, ‘the elevated aspirations of the human spirit’, with each of the movements headed by a general title as to its contents. Lasting over an hour and, with a first movement of twenty minutes, it is in scope, a throwback to the late Romantic era, though its content has an element of Nordic symphonic works from the early 20th century, with Hollywood becoming curiously involved. A skittish scherzo leads to a flowing and lyrical slow movement that has a feel of the charms of the countryside as it meanders through open space with flute sounds that Messiaen would have used to capture bird song. The finale almost stands alone in its volcanic outbursts, and calls for playing high on impact. It much contrasts with the often meditative 1996 score, Quiet Reflections, that would sound equally convincing with a chamber orchestra. The inspirational JoAnn Falleta, who conducted the highly praised  previous Gallagher release, directs the London Symphony who play the whole disc with a feeling of total familiarity, though this is the world premiere recording of both works, and one presumes it is also the first time the symphony was played. The sound quality is superb. © 2015 David’s Review Corner



Kara Dahl Russell
The WSCL Blog, February 2015

Pulse-jumping orchestral works. (Gallagher’s) strengths make a tremendous and rich use of the brass. His brassy “Ascendant” symphony is paired on this CD with a work that is bound to be very successful, due to its melodic accessibility and its short length. © 2015 The WSCL Blog Read complete review



Bob McQuiston
Classical Lost and Found, January 2015

…conductor JoAnn Falletta and the London Symphony Orchestra give a splendid account of this music. Her careful attention to dynamics and phrasing brings out all the emotional impact of these effusive scores without any histrionics. © 2015 Classical Lost and Found Read complete review



Grego Applegate Edwards
Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review, January 2015

The new disk if anything shows an even more masterful Gallagher, tackling a long-form symphony with good ideas, orchestrational brilliance, and a cohesive sequencing worthy of your attentive ear.

As before JoAnn Falletta and the London Symphony are well-disposed toward the works. They give us expressive, enthusiastic and well-balanced readings of both pieces. Their hearts and minds are open to the music and they respond with disciplined elan. Falletta excels with this sort of thing, certainly!

This is an ideal place to begin with Jack Gallagher if you haven’t previously experienced his music. It is very worth your attention in any case. © 2015 Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review Read complete review



Ettore Garzia
Percorsi Musicali, January 2015

“Ascendant” has a strong reference to symphonic roots, and is a factotum of a certain type of expression that modern criticism has forgotten. Gallagher may be considered one of the best exponents of a language that unites heart and brain. © 2015 Percorsi Musicali Read complete review




James Manheim
AllMusic.com, January 2015

It’s not so common to hear full-orchestra works from American composers not associated with major symphony orchestras, making Gallagher’s Symphony No. 2 (“Ascendant”), composed between 2010 and 2013, a welcome novelty. The work is full of brilliant brass and wind writing, alternating with quieter episodes and put together into simple but effective arch and basic sonata shapes. The writing is virtuosic enough to require a top-notch ensemble, and the London Symphony excels here, likely because of the presence of American conductor JoAnn Falletta, a specialist in just this sort of thing. The symphony builds and maintains stretches of considerable excitement, and it would be ideal for orchestras trying to program contemporary works with audience appeal. The curtain is rung down by the accurately named Quiet Reflections (1996). © 2015 AllMusic.com Read complete review



Records International, January 2015

Like the first symphony, this is a bold, opulently orchestrated tonal work charting a neo-romantic struggle-to-resolution, or darkness-to-light trajectory, hence at least in part the title ‘Ascendant’. © 2015 Records International Read complete review



Infodad.com, December 2014

JoAnn Falletta and the London Symphony Orchestra handle Quiet Reflections with emotional surety and particularly fine attention to nuance—of which this work has a considerable amount. Gallagher’s “Ascendant” symphony also bears his personal stamp…[it] is clearly constructed and well-crafted, and very well-played… © 2014 Infodad.com Read complete review





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