Another sterling creation - Symphonic Suite No 3 Album review

Symphonic Suite No.3 Album review by textura.org

For this latest distinguished addition to an ever-growing discography of Navona Records releases, Australian composer Mark John McEncroe turned for inspiration to the composition Deep in the Wilderness from his 2018 release, My Symphonic Poems. Working with his frequent collaborator, orchestrator Mark Saliba, McEncroe transformed the original piece into a full-blown, three-movement symphonic suite. Recorded in September 2021 at Vatroslav Lisinski Concert Hall Theatre in Croatia, the work is performed on the forty-three-minute release by the Zagreb Festival Orchestra and conductor Ivan Josip Skender.

 

In keeping with the character of Deep in the Wilderness, the movements “Meandering in the Forest,” “Running Mountain Streams,” and “Wandering in the Mountain Wilderness'' were titled, obviously, with nature in mind, such programmatically suggestive naming seemingly going against McEncroe's inclination to let the listener decide on his music's extra-musical content. No matter: Symphonic Suite No. 3, subtitled The Forest and the Mountains, is a tone painting of uncommon beauty and eloquence that McEncroe admirers will heartily embrace.

Symphonic Suite No. 3, subtitled The Forest and the Mountains, is a tone painting of uncommon beauty and eloquence that McEncroe admirers will heartily embrace.

Largely eschewing bombast, the composer paints richly evocative scenes that develop with clarity and purpose. Stately woodwind, horn, and string patterns gently intertwine, conjuring images of epic open-air vistas and dark forest settings as they do so. In contrast to the peaceful pastoral character another might favour, McEncroe opts for magic and mystery in this absorbing and oft-majestic presentation, his forest seemingly populated with elves and other mystical creatures more than human beings. And as the motif animating “Running Mountain Streams” shows, his signature melodic sensibility is very much present and accounted for in the work. There's drama aplenty, too, as testified to by the urgent passages that drive “Wandering in the Wilderness” with force and imbue it with grandeur.


The composer paints richly evocative scenes that develop with clarity and purpose.

 

It is possible to hear hints of other composers in the work—the stately, basses-only pattern with which the piece begins recalls Bruckner, for example, and a motif in “Running Mountain Streams” swirls in a very Glass-like manner—but Symphonic Suite No. 3 has McEncroe's indelible fingerprints all over it and ultimately registers as another sterling creation by him and him alone.

September 2022

This review originally published at textura.org


The album was released on July 8th, 2022, through Navona Records.

Physical and digital available to buy, download or stream.

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