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ALLA BREVE

January 11, 1987|EMMON SCOTT

JOHN HARBISON: "ULYSSES' BOW." Andre Previn conducting Pittsburgh Symphony. "SAMUEL CHAPTER." The composer conducting Collage Ensemble, with Susan Larson, soprano. Nonesuch Digital 79129. The spirit of Stravinsky looms large in this highly recommended recording of Harbison's ballet, "Ulysses' Bow," which depicts the last scenes from Homer's tale. The color and brilliance of Harbison's orchestral writing at many points call to mind "Firebird"; lonely melodies and pounding rhythms seem to echo "Sacre du Printemps." But this music goes beyond such references, to create a changing scene of moods that captures the essence of Homer's tale. The music is sensitively performed by conductor Previn and the Pittsburghers. "Samuel," a shorter, more severe, more Spartan work, is well sung by Larson.

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