Classical CD Reviews

“Dances of Eternity” = HANS BAKKER: Canzona L’altra Persona, Canzona II: Tribute to the Sun; ANTHONY IANNACCONE: Dancing on Vesuvius; MICHAEL J. EVANS: Into the Woods; MARGARET FAIRLIE-KENNEDY: Summer Solstice; MARK DAL PORTO: Song of Eternity – Moravian Philharmonic Orch./ Jan Kuĉera, & Petr Vronsky, conductors/Moravian Philharmonic Ch. Players/ St. Petersburg State Sym. Orch./Vladimir Lande – Navona

Emotional smorgasbord of music worth sampling.

Published on June 11, 2013

“Dances of Eternity” = HANS BAKKER: Canzona L’altra Persona, Canzona II: Tribute to the Sun; ANTHONY IANNACCONE: Dancing on Vesuvius; MICHAEL J. EVANS: Into the Woods; MARGARET FAIRLIE-KENNEDY: Summer Solstice; MARK DAL PORTO: Song of Eternity – Moravian Philharmonic Orch./ Jan Kuĉera, & Petr Vronsky, conductors/Moravian Philharmonic Ch. Players/ St. Petersburg State Sym. Orch./Vladimir Lande – Navona NV5907 [4/30/13] (Distr. by Naxos), 57:51 ***:

The disc title, Dances of Eternity, is a clever and apt play on the titles of the two works by Anthony Iannaccone and Mark Dal Porto. Press releases from Navona also say that this collection “… asks the listener to ponder life, death and everything in between.”  That’s a little deep. What we do have here is six new recordings of fairly disparate works by composers who may be fairly unfamiliar but which are more than fairly worth exploring.

I have heard some things by Netherlander Hans Bakker before and have enjoyed his direct and compelling style. The two canzoni heard here, Canzona L’altra Persona and Canzona II: Tribute to the Sun are both absorbing works and offer some nice contrast. The ‘L’altra Persona’ is a very brooding, introspective work that sounds a little bit like film music in places (perhaps John Barry) and tension-filled throughout but his ‘Tribute to the Sun’ is a work that starts dark and gets “brighter” (if you will) and really does exude a sunrise feel to it. I thought these two works work very well separately but also pair very well, as heard here.

Long time Eastern Michigan professor Anthony Iannaccone also regularly produces picturesque and accessible music. The highly attractive and – yes, dance-like – Dancing on Vesuvius is filled with colorful orchestration and an infectious buoyancy that I enjoyed a great deal.

Michael J. Evans is a young Washington, D.C. based composer known mostly for some lovely piano music. However, I thought his Into the Woods is a real find (and bears absolutely no resemblance to Stephen Sondheim). Another connection to the “dances” theme of this disc, Into the Woods is actually one movement to the composer’s ballet Deirdre (on some Celtic mythology) and this movement alone paints a wonderful, exotic and somewhat foreboding image. I have previously really enjoyed Evans’ Eidola”, also on Navona. For me, this is one of the highlights of this collection!

I had never heard of Margaret Fairlie-Kennedy before and I am a little embarrassed by that. The Atlanta native has written a vast assortment of music in all forms for over sixty years. Her work Summer Solstice is the one chamber piece on this program and also the most unusual in that it employs some very careful use of polytonality and some “modern” techniques. The variety of sound produced by a small collective of strings, winds, piano and percussion is quite interesting and this piece has a bit of propulsive ritualism to it that reminded me of Stravinsky a bit. Interestingly, this is also the longest work present at over eighteen minutes.

Mark Dal Porto was also a new name for me. Dal Porto is a professor at Eastern New Mexico University and his Song of Eternity makes a strong first impression. There is a restful, nearly impressionistic, feel to the opening of this work. Wholly tonal, beautifully scored and sounding a bit like a vast foray into the unknown; this work is a wonderful scenic “concert opener” that should find its way into major concert halls.

All performances here are just great and compliments, again, to Navona for the enhanced CD with notes, scores and so forth. They have pointed out again that there is so much interesting but unknown music out there; even if we just focus on American composers. My personal favorites here are the works by Evans and Dal Porto. I have often felt that concept albums like regional composers or works based on mythology might be attractive from a marketing point of view. No matter. I just hope Navona keeps it coming.

—Daniel Coombs




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