Wow. Just – wow.
In his latest recording, American composer, Peter Boyer, debuts his first ever symphony, Symphony No. 1, and what a gorgeous work of music it is!
Conducting his own work with the London Philharmonic Orchestra (known for their soundtrack recordings such as The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Harry Potter movies and Star Wars), Peter Boyer brings his first symphony to life by lifting up the listener with both emotion and excitement.
The album opens with new and fresh recordings of his pieces Festivities and, my personal favorite, Silver Fanfare – which I can easily picture being performed by a marching band or a drum and bugle corps. Though full orchestral pieces, these two compositions are all reminiscent of the music I most enjoyed performing when I played clarinet in a band. I think that may be because the percussion, brass and winds are featured so prominently within that they’re exciting and nostalgic all at once for me.
From there it moves on to a trio of songs named after Greek gods titled Three Olympians: Apollo, Aphrodite and Ares. These three make for some terrific music, but Ares – WHOA! It’ll blow you away within the first few notes. Talk about intense! Best track of the album. (Of course, I might have said that to myself about a few other tracks, too!)
Celebration Overture finishes out the new recordings with some incredible brass parts, but listen for the piano. It’s a great addition to this piece.
The main focus of this recording, the pièce de résistance as it were, is Boyer’s three-movement Symphony No. 1. It begins with the Prelude which eases the listener in with a melody led by the strings yet slowly adds in more strings and brass on the bass lines to drive it up to such a level of intensity that you won’t know what hit you, but you won’t care because it sounds good. It levels out a bit prior to ending the movement, but it’s definitely not a mild intro.
From there, he moves on to the Scherzo / Dance movement which has a quick-moving, foot-tapping beat to it. Be warned, you may find yourself wanting to dance to this one!
The third movement, the Adagio, is definitely my favorite of the three. It’s filled with a gorgeous theme beautifully carried by the middle voices. It’s big. It’s emotional. It’s very moving.
Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein and John Williams* are the three composers Boyer most admires and enjoys. In fact, this CD is dedicated to the memory of Bernstein. Their influence however is rather apparent in his Symphony No. 1. I could definitely hear Copland in the Prelude, Bernstein in the Scherzo and Williams in the Adagio. What a beautiful combination. A fan of all three composers, it’s no wonder I like Boyer’s music so much!
I’m always hesitant when I first listen to music written by living composers, but this CD blew me away. Without a doubt, this is an excellent recording. A fantastic album, the praises for which are coming from this humble blogger who has consistently avoided any 20th/21st century music her entire life because she’s always incorrectly stereotyped it ALL as annoying, dissonant sound that just grates on one’s nerves like fingernails on a chalkboard.
While sure, there is music like that, it is NOT found here. What’s here is beautiful.
This is music that will definitely appeal to both orchestra and band lovers alike. I can readily envision this music’s being played both in grand concert halls as well as on football fields.
This is a passionate and beautifully-written music album. This is music you’ll want to play again and again!
Heard this on XM the other day and even sat in mar car after arriving at my destination to continue listening. Never heard of Peter Boyd but now I listen to his work a lot. Something about his music is a little different, yet very appealing. As a fan of the traditional symphony masters, I am glad to have added Boyd to my list.
Spectacular music from a fine composer
By Classical music admirer
Boyer's music demonstrates influences from important American symphonic composers such as Copland, Bernstein, and Williams, as well as American “neo-Romantic” composers like Barber and Hanson; while hearkening back in some ways to these earlier American composers, his music nonetheless has its own compelling voice. His Symphony No. 1 may be his most ambitious purely musical (non-programmatic) work to date, and is a worthy addition to the canon of American symphonies.
Boyer has a strong lyrical/melodic gift, a quality not often seen in contemporary American orchestral music (outside of cinema music, which is a clear influence on his work). Though his music is “accessible,” and does not favor astringent dissonances or experimental approaches, it is extremely well-crafted, and bears repeated listenings. His music often has great rhythmic vitality, and he handles mixed meters in a compelling way; the “Scherzo/Dance” of the Symphony No. 1, which is in a very unusual 13/8 meter, is still very dance-like. Boyer is a superb orchestrator, with total command of the large orchestral forces he employs, and a colorful and varied approach to orchestration (including strong brass writing).
Three of Boyer's shorter works, "Silver Fanfare", "Celebration Overture", and "Festivities", demonstrate his skills at crafting exuberant concert openers. "Three Olympians" for string orchestra, inspired by three of the Greek gods of Olympus, demonstrates Boyer's idiomatic writing for strings, and has a “Britten-esque” influence; “Aphrodite” features one of his most lyrical melodies.
The London Philharmonic Orchestra is one of the world’s premiere recording ensembles, and performs brilliantly under the composer’s baton. Recorded at Abbey Road Studios, the recorded sound is excellent. Overall, this is a powerful recording, and a strong addition to the Naxos American Classics Series.
Peter Boyer has conducted an absolutely first rate and masterfully recorded account of his music. This recording is one of the most exciting things I have ever heard. This is the new gold standard of both composition and orchestral performance! Bravo!
American Energy Infused With Old World Precision
By Off The Fence
This new Naxos collection of Peter Boyer’s music is one of his best.
Conducted by the composer, the London Philharmonic Orchestra (L.P.O.) takes the highly rhythmic and complex energy of Boyer’s American music and presents it with aplomb that is rare. This orchestra brings an old world precision (keep calm and carry on) to Boyer’s American exuberance that reminds us again of just what a great, modern symphonic orchestra is truly capable of. It’s obvious that both Boyer and the L.P.O. care if you listen.
Of special note in this collection is Boyer’s first symphony, recently commissioned and premiered by the Pasadena (CA) Symphony. Although the work’s harmonic universe is highly tonal, the first movement is surprisingly, not in sonata form. Rather, it pays homage, and gives a post-minimalist twist, to an even older tonal form, the fugue.
If the first movement had been written in sonata form, the third movement could very well serve as its secondary theme. Boyer’s growing command of orchestration, prevalent throughout this work, truly shines here. A long, beautifully sweeping melody first unfolds in the lower parts of the orchestra. Then, like the progressing sunlight of the day, it warms the other sections of the orchestra until the entire ensemble blossoms into a fragrant display of sonic color.
Is there a future repertoire for the symphonic orchestra beyond the cyclical performing of the great masters of the past that audiences will listen to? Yes, and Boyer is helping to pave the road to that future with his music. Thank you to Naxos for bringing us another Peter Boyer album.
An American Classic: Peter Boyer
By L3 Music
Propulsive, vivacious, blazing, fresh, and quintessentially American.
Composer and conductor, Peter Boyer, does not disappoint with this new album. Recorded at Abbey Road under the direction of the composer, the London Philharmonic Orchestra does a beautiful job bringing the vibrant music of Boyer’s to life with a brilliance and virtuosity that only the ensemble can.
All of the pieces on this album compliment one another. Boyer takes you on a musical journey beginning with "Silver Fanfare" and ending with his first symphony, "Symphony No. 1". The piece, "Festivities", is a musical treasure that I am sure will become an orchestral standard.
Boyer saves the best for last. "Symphony No. 1" exemplifies the composer’s craft, creativity, inspirations, and individual compositional voice. Listening to this work, one comes away with the impression that this piece represents Boyer himself.
For those who wish to learn more about great contemporary American composers, this album is a great introduction. A wonderful addition to Naxos American Classics series.
Welcome to the musical world of Peter Boyer!
Having been a dancer all of my life, I have heard and danced to so many classical pieces. Peter Boyer's music exudes flavors of Bernstein, and at the same time, his own exquisite originality shines through. Bravo!!!!
A brilliant American voice not to be neglected
By P Ruiz
The character of Boyer’s works express a jubilance that is seldom heard amongst the gravitas of the Western European musical canon. His compositional language is a distinct American voice who’s latest release is finely crafted, engaging and simply a must have. The orchestration of his music is often brilliant and definitely conveys the excitement and strength of the American orchestral sound without succumbing to pop-like “lite-classical” fanfare.
In Silver Fanfare, Festivities and Celebration Overture melodic development of the musical themes are driving and unrelenting. But he also has a softer side! For example, the offering of a poignant contrasting lyrical theme in Celebration Overture is one of the most beautifully orchestrated melodies that I have ever heard. Boyer’s lyrical prowess also comes to the fore in the second movement, Aphrodite, of the Three Olympians. (Listen to it and you’ll fall in love with the melodies!)
Symphony No. 1 is the flagship of this release and was commissioned by the Pasadena Symphony and dedicated, by Peter Boyer, to the memory of Leonard Bernstein. A fantastic choice in choosing a American composer who has an outstanding command of orchestration and compositional language. “Coplandesque” melodic lines coupled with the influence of the late Leonard Bernstein are apparent and leave no question of the craft or earnestness of this composers talents in his first symphonic venture. The accessibility of this work with no “watering-down” of content and the strength of the recording itself bear repeated listenings and offers an insight to the works brilliance.
Living composers are often neglected and not always fully appreciated. However Peter Boyer’s works offer a freshness and vigor that are refreshing as his orchestral works are sure to become parts of the standard repertory one day representing the American orchestral sound.
I found Peter Boyer's new symphony by looking at new releases on iTunes. A little research and I purchased it. Boyer's music is tonal, but with a contemporary edge. He claims to look up to the music of John Williams, and I can hear a lot of Williams in Boyer's music. As John Williams is a preeminent film and contemporary composer, Boyer is in good company. His music has a positive energy, is skillfully orchestrated, and is well crafted. The short pieces would make great openers for any orchestra concert, and the symphony holds together very well. This album makes for rewarding listening.
Contemporary American orchestral music at its finest
By The Last Gentleman
Peter Boyer's latest release in the Naxos American Classics Series is a must-have for fans of contemporary American orchestral music. From the jubilant fanfares of such rousing, celebratory works as "Silver Fanfare," "Festivities," and "Celebration Overture" to the exhilarating textures and magisterial strains of "Three Olympians" and Symphony No. 1, this album of recordings by the composer and the legendary London Philharmonic Orchestra does not disappoint. Fans of Boyer's orchestral works will be delighted to find such a broad spectrum of his concert hall music (1997-2013) now available on a single disc/digital album; for those who are new to Boyer's music, this recording provides an excellent introduction to his previous compositions for the concert hall, as well as his very latest works in the genre.
For many concertgoers, the label "contemporary orchestral music" might initially seem to suggest elitist, esoteric sound experiments that must be patiently tolerated until the memorable melodies of familiar concert masterworks by Mozart, Beethoven, and Brahms are heard during the second half of a symphonic concert program. Not so with Boyer's concert works; in fact, his tuneful, ebullient orchestral scores often bring audiences to their feet in genuine excitement and enthusiasm. The three celebratory overtures on this album are all cases in point: "Silver Fanfare" positively shimmers with energy and life, and "Festivities" and "Celebration Overture" both display a balance between the sonic fireworks of Boyer's trademark orchestral flair and the expressive lyricism of his well-crafted themes. The vivid, picturesque qualities of "Three Olympians" brilliantly demonstrate Boyer's full palette of extended techniques and timbres, as well as his solid command of the string orchestra. Lastly, the epic outer movements and exuberant middle movement of his Symphony no. 1 showcase his ability to craft long-breathed melodic lines, energetic rhythms, and dazzling orchestral colors in an accessible and thoroughly American style.
For those who have lost hope in contemporary orchestral concert music, and who long for a return to the elements of melody, rhythmic pulse, and symphonic grandeur as exemplified in the great Americana tradition of Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein, and John Williams, look no further than Peter Boyer's latest recording on Naxos-–you will not be disappointed.