With his unique orchestral voice, Piccolo summons the coveted spring of youth and the unbridled creativity that flows within its waters.
[T]he Moravian Philharmonic brings added exuberance to the composer's already colorful score.
Replete with thoughtful and effective artistic choices, Piccolo's playful yet pensive symphony is a tour de force…
Marta Talábová's performance of Flûtes de suite…conveys every ounce of the music's personality -- an impressive feat given the ever-changing face of Piccolo's suite, which unfolds like a set of nested character pieces.
…mesmerizing creations, which turn the clock back in the most magical ways.
"PICCOLO: Imaginary Symphony; Cello Sonata; Fever Time; Flute Suite; Fanfare-Sonatina"
These [works] are aimed at both children and adults. …[T]here is a playful nature to most of it, but that does nothing to detract from its quality or the seriousness of its message... There is an element of fantasy to everything that makes the music attractive, but never cheap.
Anthony Piccolo is a new name for me but one I should have known and am now quite glad to have discovered! Mr. Piccolo is a multi-talented composer, conductor and pianist whose primary responsibility is the director and trainer of the Children’s Chorus for the Metropolitan Opera. Therefore it only seems natural that the two “signature” works on this disc – and those that provide the most enjoyment – are the Imaginary Symphony No.1 and Fever Time.
The Imaginary Symphony is an absolutely charming work for children’s chorus and orchestra after poetry by John Clare and Peter Wilson. The three movements bear the just as charming titles 'Lady Bug’s Rain-Song,' 'Explore' and 'Dream.' In the fairly small lexicon of [orchestral] works for children’s chorus exclusively, this is a welcome addition. Piccolo’s language is tonal, with attractive orchestrations and his writing for young voices is outstanding… I loved this piece!
Fever Time is another wonderfully captivating work, for a pared-down children’s vocal ensemble, celesta and percussion, to texts by Susan Kander… [T]he texts are absolutely charming (again), with topics like 'Cat,' 'Bug' and 'Tea Kettle.' This beautiful little work exists in seven short movements more like vignettes… I find great enjoyment in hearing this piece in repeated fashion!
The three remaining works in this amazing collection illustrate Piccolo’s prowess as a composer of instrumental works. The Sonata for Cello Solo is a very dramatic and attractive three-movement work performed quite convincingly here by Petr Nouzovsky. I especially enjoyed the closing 'Malinconico.'
Flûtes de suite for multi-flute soloist is…a four-movement work for a solo flutist playing each movement on a different member of the flute family (flute, alto flute, piccolo and bass flute). The work is picturesque and bears some imagery-laden subtitles, such as 'Railride at Dusk' (alto) and '…sleep: perchance…' (bass). I am aware personally of how difficult it is to play such extremes as piccolo and bass flute well, especially within the same work, and soloist Marta Talábová does this quite well!
Lastly the Fanfare-Sonatina for four horns makes a nice addition to the French horn quartet repertoire. The fanfare-like opening gives way to a nice propulsive 'Volando' and closes with a lovely sarabande-like 'Andante con moto.' A rather short work, just under five and a half minutes, this is perfect for horn players.
Anthony Piccolo is clearly a very talented person… The Imaginary Symphony No.1 and Fever Time are impressive, moving and adorable all at once and I recommend these pieces enthusiastically!
Music of the new and unfamiliar sort promises to go anywhere, do virtually anything. When it does, one is refreshed, revitalized. Anthony Piccolo has that capacity for renewal and shows it well on his CD Imaginary Symphony and Other Tales (Navona 5904).
Piccolo, among many other things, is currently the director of the children's chorus at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. The experience and what he brings to it gets reflected with two vivid works that place a children's chorus in the prominent role: the title work Imaginary Symphony No. 1 for children's chorus and symphony orchestra, and the song suite Fever Time, seven songs on words by Susan Kander, for children's voices, percussion and celesta.
Both works are very much irresistible… The symphony has expressive sprawl, the song suite a more intimate poeticism... There is a mallet pulsation that has a pre-minimalist, world-encompassing quality on the song suite… Both works have a modern feel but a reach that goes back to the music of the last 100 years, redefined and encapsulated, remade. The children's choir give the music fairy tale and/or everyday innocence and a haunting quality. They are marvelous. The works are marvelous.
The other works fill out the program nicely. The Sonata for Cello Solo, Flûtes de suite for multi-flute soloist, and the Fanfare-Sonatina for four horns give welcome contrast and sonic texture to an already fascinating and rewarding program.
Performances by instrumental soloists, the Moravian Philharmonic, the Campanella Children's Chorus and the Hamelin Children's Chorus are spot on and all one could wish for.
This one refreshes, gives you pause, and enchants. Bravo, Maestro Piccolo!