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Alla Breves

STEPHEN ALBERT: Symphony "RiverRun"; National Symphony...

April 23, 1989|WALTER PRICE

STEPHEN ALBERT: Symphony "RiverRun"; National Symphony, Mstislav Rostropovich, conducting. "To Wake the Dead" (song cycle), Lucy Shelton, soprano; 20th Century Consort, Christopher Kendall, conducting. Delos D/CD1016. Albert's 1985 Pulitzer Prize winning symphony, inspired by the works of James Joyce, is conservatively tonal, even Romantic. His style is eclectic though clearly the Stravinsky of "Firebird" and "Petrushka" have influenced him. Albert is certainly a master of lush orchestration, if his melodic material is not particularly distinguished. No composer could ask for a more sympathetic performance than that provided by Rostropovich. In the song cycle, Albert shows he can write considerately for the voice, no mean accomplishment these days. However, using texts from "Finnegan's Wake," he shows little propensity for building a memorable vocal line until the final, "Passing Out."

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