A Walk Through The Garden


The conductor Robert Spano, long an enthusiastic champion of contemporary music, has often programmed and recorded new works during his tenure as music director of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. On a new release from Telarc, Gandolfi: The Garden of Cosmic Speculation, he offers the world premiere recording of Michael Gandolfi.

The title of this vibrantly colorful, appealing work, which is also available in SACD format, was inspired by a garden of the same name in Scotland, and its vividly pictoral music is based on aspects of the garden. The "Snail and the Poetics of Going Slow," with its gentle string melody, reflects the Snail Mound, for example.

The almost jazzy exuberance of "WillowTwist," with its soaring trumpet and trombone solos, melts into a snippet of melancholy cello melody and a recording of birdsong. The peace is abruptly shattered by the crashing opening "big bang" chord and eerie tension of "The Universe Cascade."

The "Garden of the Senses Suite," inspired by the garden's manicured, geometrical plots, uses a reduced orchestra in a suite of dances all incorporating references to Bach and the baroque in an unpredictable modern canvas.

Part 3 utilizes the full orchestra again, with the tolling of chimes, harp and piano followed by menacing drum rolls in "The Quark Walk." The intense concluding movement, which finishes with birdsong, was inspired by the postmodern architecture of a sculpture called "The Nonsense" and includes references to notable twentieth century works.