ARNOLD ROSNER (1945-2013): Orchestral Music, Vol. 3 - Symphony No. 6, Op. 64, Nocturne, Op. 68, Tempus Perfectum: A Concert Overture, Op. 109.
Catalogue Number: 01U008
Label: Toccata Classics
Reference: TOCC 0469
Description: This latest sample of the diverse output of a stunningly original voice that nevertheless contrives to sound somehow familiar and instantly accessible, is the best yet, and this despite the many virtues of 06R068, 04T011 et al. Here, Rosner's extraordinarily fertile idiom - compounded of Renaissance polyphony, Romantic tonality freed from the rigour of classical key relationships through the intercession of modality and early music more than the chromatic tendencies of post-Wagnerian music history that led to atonality and serialism (which Rosner eschewed with polemical vehemence) - is turned to the expression of the monumental, the volcanic, even the grandiose. The massive 6th Symphony - 40 minutes in three movements - is unusually neo-romantic for Rosner, entering the canon of monumental twentieth-century symphonies full of emotional drama and apocalyptic, dystopian vision. It begins with a movement of unbridled ferocity. One is reminded that Vaughan Williams - in this case, he of the 4th and 6th symphonies - was an early idol of Rosners. The arresting opening leads immediately to an angry, angular theme which spawns a handful of motifs, the turbulent development of which makes up the rest of the movement. Even when quiet, the music obsessively slithers around itself as though seething with barely contained fury. Eventually the movement spins itself up into a frenzied maelstrom of repetition, unable, it seems, to regain any sense of control. The slow movement begins mournfully, after all this violence, as though expressing regret, but soon a mysterious icy calm descends, the mood increasingly unsettled. Nonetheless it achieves a climax of solemn grandeur and then explores the movement's main theme in a passage of tragic, heavy tread. The glacial landscape returns, and the movement seems headed to a calm, if unconsoling, conclusion. Instead, a huge climax erupts out of nowhere, piling up mountain-ranges of monumental, dissonant chords, modulating startlingly in unexpected directions; only now is the movement able to draw to a hushed close. The huge, kaleidoscopically complex finale opens dramatically, with a powerful statement of a grand theme, full of Rosner's beloved major-minor clashes. A gentler treatment of this material is soon swept away by a vigorous allegro, gathering momentum in fugal textures, then swept up by a surging canonic entry of the main theme in the deepest register. The music then enters into dialogue with itself, undecided as to whether to end in cataclysm or serenity, alternating eruptive violence and gentle resignation. A solo trumpet sounds a lonely memorial, and the symphony finally goes gentle into its good night. The unassumingly titled Nocturne is actually a vision of cosmic grandeur, the infinite spaces and unimaginable swirling violence of space; the collisions of galaxies, the birth and death of stars all contributing to a tapestry of beauty, mystery and magnificence. Tempus perfectum is a perfect example of the timelessness of Rosner's idiom; a Renaissance canzona in dialogue with conflicting modern harmonies, yet retaining the stately, controlled character of Renaissance dance even as it passes through a brief episode of climactic confrontation. London Philharmonic Orchestrra; Nick Palmer.