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Friday, July 19, 2013

Anthony Piccolo, Imaginary Symphony and Other Tales

Music of the new and unfamiliar sort promises to go anywhere, do virtually anything. When it does, one is refreshed, revitalized. Anthony Piccolo has that capacity for renewal and shows it well on his CD Imaginary Symphony and Other Tales (Navona 5904). Nicely whimsical cover art greets you as you prepare to hear the music. And it fits nicely the music to come.

Piccolo among many other things is currently the director of the children's chorus at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. The experience and what he brings to it gets reflected with two vivid works that place a children's chorus in the prominent role: the title work "Imaginary Symphony No. 1" for children's chorus and symphony orchestra, and the song suite "Fever Time, seven songs on words by Susan Kander, for children's voices, percussion and celesta."

Both works are very much irresistible as much of, for and from childhood experience. The symphony has expressive sprawl, the song suite a more intimate poeticism. There is a touch of Carl Orff, especially of "Street Songs," lurking behind the scenes as a springboard influence on both works, especially the latter. There is a mallet pulsation that has a pre-minimalist world-encompassing quality on the song suite. In both cases there is a great deal more than that. Both works have a modern feel but a reach that goes back to the music of the last 100 years, redefined and encapsulated, remade. The children's choir give the music fairy tale and/or everyday innocence and a haunting quality. They are marvelous. The works are marvelous.

The other works fill out the program nicely. The "Sonata for Cello Solo," "Flutes de suite for multi-flute soloist," and the "Fanfare-Sonatina for 4 horns" give welcome contrast and sonic texture to an already fascinating and rewarding program.

Performances by instrumental soloists, the Moravian Philharmonic, the Campanella Children's Chorus and the Hamelin Children's Chorus are spot on and all one could wish for.

This one refreshes, gives you pause, and enchants. Bravo Maestro Piccolo!

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