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Stephen Estep
American Record Guide, September 2015

Performances and sonics are excellent. © 2015 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide

David Denton
David's Review Corner, April 2015

Thirteen years ago Naxos issued two discs of music by the major Italian composer, Elisabetta Brusa, when I describe them as ‘LutosÅ‚awski without the catchy tunes’. Born in Italy in 1954, Brusa was educated at the Milan Conservatorio, furthering her compositional studies in England and the USA where she was then to spend much of her time. Composing almost exclusively for orchestra, her music has been performed in many parts of the world, and since 1980 she has shared her time between composition and teaching at the Milan Conservatorio. For the First Symphony, completed in 1990, I would now have to add that the orchestration recalls Shostakovitch’s Fourth Symphony, the pungency contained within the general realms of tonality, and while the first movement conveys both weight and impact, it often gives way to sections of tender lyrical beauty. Largely revolving around the following Adagio, which stylistically turns the clock back a generation, its quiet nature is interrupted by one climatic moment. The scherzo is qualified by the tempo marking ‘moderato’, the jagged rhythms emphasised by timpani, its mood of latent energy continuing into a finale that drives forward to a noisy and hectic conclusion. Merlin, completed in 2004, is a graphic picture of the mythical person, full of primary orchestral colours, and if you, for instance, enjoy Sallinen’s music you will certainly enjoy this. For the Scottish orchestra the whole disc must have been a challenge, yet, under the much acclaimed young Italian conductor, Daniele Rustioni, they provide the security, passion and commitment for which they have become known. The recording is from the premiere league, and I much commend the disc to you. © 2015 David’s Review Corner

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