Classical Music Home

Welcome to Naxos Records

Keyword Search
 Classical Music Home > Naxos Album Reviews

Album Reviews

See latest reviews of other albums...

Phillip Scott
Fanfare, November 2012

The sea is the inspiration behind the two-movement Ninth Symphony of 2009, subtitled “Thalassa” after the Ancient Greek spirit of the ocean. The symphony plays continuously, combining a literally deep, slow-moving first movement with a varied and often surprising second.

The Eighth Symphony of 2008 bears the subtitle “Gaia’s Dance.” While Marco’s approach is similar, the source material here is rhythmic: a work in the realm of the two-piano piece I mentioned above. All three continuous movements contain extended passages of stamping, ritualistic dance music…Repetition of these rhythmic figures serves to create a solid, inert effect, the equivalent of dancers depicted on an ancient fragment of pottery.

The Symphony No. 2 of 1985 is a single-movement work, subtitled “Espacio Cerrado”…At a little over 15 minutes, it is the shortest of these three symphonies. I don’t know to what kind of closed space the title refers, but the opening orchestral figure sounds remarkably like the slamming of a metal door, while creepy two-note stabs within a wailing string texture are not far removed from the symbolism of Shostakovich’s quartets. A visceral filmic quality, like the underscore to a scene of brooding disquiet, supports Ellis’s description of the composer as an imagist.

To sum up: This is the best introduction yet to a strong-minded, substantial composer whose music may well grow on you. © 2012 Fanfare Read complete review

Chris Morgan
Scene Magazine, August 2012

This recently released recording from Naxos compiles three of Marco’s orchestral works…Symphony No. 2, as well as the eighth and ninth symphonies, performed by Malaga Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of conductor Jose Serebrier. As pieces of music, each symphony has character. The second sets a frenetic pace, yet it’s powerful; oceanic feelings inspired the ninth, it comes across as immersive and dynamic; while the eighth—also known as Gaia’s Dance—borrows elements from dance cultures around the world, weaving them into a tapestry of deep rhythms and meaning. While postmodern in orientation, Marco’s work is accessible, and does not succumb to the atonal, screeching or dissonant chaos that can afflict the music of his contemporaries. Consequently, his music feels exotic and exciting, charged with the potency of mixed influences that coalesce effortlessly into a new and vibrant creation. © 2012 Scene Magazine Read complete review

Paul Corfield Godfrey
MusicWeb International, August 2012

All three symphonies on this disc have subtitles—as, it seems, do all the composer’s symphonies—which explains something about the nature of the music. The second is subtitled Closed space, and the composer explains that he was “interested in exploring the creation of a single, compact, self-contained space.”

The much later symphony Gaia’s Dance is a different matter altogether, a continuous series of three dance movements. The first explores the dance music of Africa and Latin America under the subtitle of the old proto-continent Gondwana, and sounds rather like a more modern version of some of Villa-Lobos’s more ‘ethnic’ scores. The second movement, named after the old northern proto-continent Laurasia, is a similar ‘take’ on the music of Europe and Asia, but the only readily identifiable elements in the music appear to be Indo-Arabic in flavour…The final movement embraces the dance music of the world as a whole—it is named after the primeval super-continent Pangaea…it is all quite good fun.

The latest symphony on this disc is based on Marco’s concept of the sea, which he states has always been an inspiration in his music. It consists of two movements. The first, Nun, is a depiction of the Egyptian god of water creating the oceans out of primordial chaos. The music is dark and suggestive more of the ocean deeps than their sunlit surface. The second movement is a depiction of Okéanos and brings us nearer to the light, with some quite impressionist reflections of Debussy evident on occasion. The whole symphony is linked by elements of mediaeval Spanish music by Martín Codáx…

The Codáx material is readily identifiable some of the time. Its treatment suggests the methods of Britten in the church parables. The rest is, like the Second Symphony, a series of disparate textures—often of interest and enjoyable in themselves—which stand however resolutely in solitary isolation and apart from each other. The effect is perhaps best appreciated if one regards the whole score as a soundtrack for an unmade documentary film on ocean life. Indeed it would work very well as such.

The symphony as a whole is entitled Thalassa, named after the primeval spirit of the sea.

The orchestral performances appear…to be excellent and resourceful, rising successfully to all the many challenges presented by the composer. The marvellous and always-responsive Serebrier brings understanding and a sense of brilliance to the scoring. The recording is excellent, clear and precise… © 2012 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Robert Cummings
Classical Net, June 2012

The Eighth Symphony…begins with an attractive, exotic drum rhythm played by the djembe, an African percussion instrument. There are glissando shrieks and other instrumental effects that add to the colorful sound world of the opening movement…Appropriately, the music uses dance features of Latin America and African origin. The second movement, “Laurasia”, ancient name for the landmass once comprised of Europe and Asia, begins slowly and gloomily but then also turns rhythmic and somewhat exotic. The finale, Pangea, the name for the super-landmass from the Paleozoic and Mesozoic eras that included virtually all land on Earth, begins with an array of percussion instruments which are then joined by an exotic bassoon dance theme. Various musical styles from across the globe are used in this, perhaps the most eclectic movement in any of the symphonies.

The performances by the Malaga Philharmonic, under the baton of veteran conductor José Serebrier, are convincing in every way. Naxos provides excellent sound…If you like contemporary orchestral music of progressive…character, you may well find this Tomás Marco disc to your liking. © 2012 Classical Net Read complete review

Grego Applegate Edwards
Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review, March 2012

Marco’s No. 2 is perhaps the densest and most dramatic. No. 9 combines medieval motifs…with a kind of portrait of the sea spirit “Thalassa.” …No. 8 Gaia’s Dance has rhythmic and melodic motives that suggest folk dance forms but are treated by Marco as raw material to his larger end of creating multistranded polysemantic orchestral significances.

This is a composer going his own way. There are complex dissonances and simple folk melodies conjoined in labyrinthian matrices, all bearing the stamp of originality. With Jose Serebrier at the helm the complexities of Marco’s music are articulated with expressive heft and drive. Tomas Marcos and these symphonies should be heard by anyone with an interest in the modern symphony and contemporary Spanish music. A provocative recording that is not to be missed. © 2012 Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, February 2012

Tomas Marco has become one of Spain’s most prolific and influential composers, having written six operas, nine symphonies and a quantity of chamber music. Born in 1942 his educational gifts could have taken him into law, but he chose music, his compositional mentors including Boulez, Stockhausen, Maderna and Ligeti. He was later to become much involved in electro-acoustic music, and held the post of Director of the CNDM (National Centre for the Promotion of Contemporary Music). If his symphonic works he does not fall conveniently into the world of atonal or serial music, though it is of a very modern ilk that will need your tastes to be in the post-Shostakovich era. The Second Symphony, from 1985, has the title Espacio cerrado (Closed Space), and, as the composer writes, it is ‘like a spiral closing in on itself’. The result is an almost claustrophobic atmosphere of nightmarish quality. The Eighth, Gaia’s Dance, came twenty-three years later, its three movements aiming to combine dance rhythms from various parts of the world. It is a weighty score, the impact of the outer movements finding a more seductive peace in the central Laurasia. The Ninth carries the title, Thalassa, its two movements taking their inspiration from the sea, the second movement a picture of turbulence. The music must present an orchestra with many challenges…the Malaga Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Jose Serebrier, communicate the vastness of Marco’s musical language. The recording offers plenty of inner detail. © 2012 David’s Review Corner

Naxos Records, a member of the Naxos Music Group