Joseph Schwantner was born in Chicago in 1943 and is a prominent figure in American contemporary music, his works receiving many accolades including the Pulitzer Prize for Aftertones of Infinity, Friedheim Awards first prize for Music of Amber and a Grammy Award nomination in the category, ‘Best New Classical Composition’ for A Sudden Rainbow. Until recently he was Professor of Music at Yale University. His music has been performed extensively worldwide and is commonly compared to the likes of Berg, Crumb, Messiaen and Debussy; however, the modern nature of his work should not scare people off as this is accessable music, powerfully emotive and cinematic in style, with luminous textures and dramatic imagery. A Sudden Rainbow is Schwantner’s earliest work on this disc and calls for amplified piano and celesta and gives a prominent role to pitched and unpitched percussion. Angelfire is written for and performed on this disc by violinist Anne Akiko Meyers and explores the unique expressive aspects of the violin. Again Schwantner requests that the solo instrument be amplified so that it can compete with the sonorities of such a large orchestra. The September Canticle was commissioned by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and written as a personal tribute to the victims of 9 / 11. The combination of menacing, chromatic tonal suspensions and a heart-wrenching melody from the strings enhances the powerful and poignant nature of this one-movement work.
'Andrew Litton's excellent Dallas Symphony Orchestra does full justice to all the works … And the three soloists for whom the later pieces were written could hardly be bettered' (BBC Music Magazine)
'Andrew Litton draws a meticulously prepared response from his admirable Texas band and all three soloists are on irreproachably secure form throughout. The sound has both impressive body and detail in its favour' (Gramophone)
'New York-born conductor Andrew Litton is virtually an adopted son of England, so it seems natural to see him turn up on Hyperion. Still, this collection of brilliantly wrought recent scores by American composer Joseph Schwantner comes as a welcome surprise' (Time Out, New York)
'Four works excellently performed and recorded that represent the composer at his best ... Passages are ravishingly beautiful, the scoring is extraordinarily imaginative, and the overall impact is quite moving... This fine resent release offers exquisite performances' (Fanfare, USA)