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Raymond Beegle
Fanfare, May 2019

The words of Emily Dickenson, the Psalms, and the Mass lend an air of grandiosity to Heaven is Shy of Earth, a derivative work which holds the listener’s attention by dramatic segments similar in length to television commercials. Mezzo-soprano Susan Bickley is a superb musician with a beautiful voice and a secure technique. © 2019 Fanfare Read complete review



Arnold Whittall
Gramophone, December 2018

This excellent CD fills significant gaps in the Anderson discography. At the same time it reminds us of the huge gap left by the death of Oliver Knussen. This pair of live performances radiates the clarity and conviction he brought to the most challenging contemporary scores, and the subtle balances and rich colours of the music are beautifully caught in these recordings, eight years old but sounding as fresh as the day they were made.  © 2018 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone




Norman Lebrecht
Musical Toronto, November 2018

Ollie was a perceptive interpreter and naturally communicative conductor. He brings to life here two works of Julian Anderson, an English composer now in his fifties whose reputation has not travelled far and wide—and you can hear why. © 2018 Ludwig van Toronto Read complete review



Records International, November 2018

As we commented on Anderson’s works a couple of years ago: “he uses harmony as the primary evolving feature of his argument—not according to the strictures of tonality, but with a strong sense of harmonic movement that can sound tonal but with a certain weightlessness due to its freedom from fixed tonal gravitational centers.”, which is equally true of both these works. © 2018 Records International Read complete review



David Denton
David's Review Corner, October 2018

Knussen, his composition mentor and champion in his role of a conductor. Sadly Oliver is no longer with us, having died earlier this year, and Anderson, with much help, has ‘rescued’ two live performances of his music conducted by Knussen. From 2009, the Comedy of Change, scored for twelve players, may be considered as an abstract score, but as the booklet relates there are ‘pictures’ expressed within the music. As with all of Anderson’s recent scores, the seven sections are created from sounds that have no connection with established tonality, and show an increasing acceptance of progressive modernism, his scoring is sparing, the instruments interjecting rather than continuous. Created as a concert work, it has since been taken into the world of modern ballet. In summary it is a lengthy score that will be for listeners deep into the world of avant garde music. Heaven is Shy of Earth was completed at much the same time, but calls for a large symphony orchestra and chorus with a part for a mezzo-soprano soloist. Those who have devout religious beliefs will find the words in the title the wrong way round, and maybe little attracted to Emily Dickinson’s poems that form part of the score. Certainly Anderson’s music gives a new slant to the Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus and Agnus Dei sections that individually carry much impact, Susan Bickley’s interjections bringing venom to the Gloria when we are expecting to find the beauty of nature that surrounds us. From a vocal point of view she is in fine form, and Knussen drew totally committed playing from the BBC Symphony, the chorus responding with fervency to Anderson’s very demanding score. So whatever your feelings are towards the words, this is an imposing work that may well find a place in the choral repertoire. The British Broadcasting Corporation have, from a sound point of view, provided one of the very best orchestral recordings I have heard in recent years. © 2018 David’s Review Corner





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