John A Carollo: Symphony No 3 - London Symphony Orchestra. © 2019 Navona Records LLC

CD Spotlight

Well Worth Supporting

GEOFF PEARCE listens to the third symphony by Italian-born American composer John A Carollo

'... a distinct, assured musical voice which is not quite like anyone else I have heard.'


This composer (born 1954) is a new one to me. He started his professional life as a clinical psychologist and later, in 2006, ceased work in that profession to concentrate on musical composition full-time.

My first hearing of this work was not particularly favourable, but I listened again and liked it much more when hearing it for the second time. He presents a distinct, assured musical voice which is not quite like anyone else I have heard.

The opening movement, 'To Morning', is slow, starting softly and gradually building up tension before subsiding and relaxing. The composer writes 'The music transverses the romantic nature until we reach the evening stillness, which often arouses human appetites' and the music is certainly evocative of this.

Listen — John A Carollo: To Morning (Symphony No 3)
(track 1, 2:53-3:46) © 2019 Navona Records LLC :

The second movement, 'Gestural Rituals', portrays the various gestures and emotions that make up our daily lives. The movement has a rhythmic and dramatic opening. I have to say that this movement, especially that opening figure, caused me to initially have reservations about this work. The opening figure is the motif to which the rest of the movement returns, and it resurfaces from time to time. Quite a few emotional states are revealed in this movement, and one appreciates this with repeated hearing.

Listen — John A Carollo: Gestural Rituals (Symphony No 3)
(track 2, 3:25-4:09) © 2019 Navona Records LLC :

'In the Garden of Earthly Delights' portrays our cravings, quests and seductions and introduces a soprano soloist, Emma Tring, who does a fine job. The movement is divided into three sections depicting those three states. The first is tender and purely instrumental, and the playing is sumptuous, as one would expect with such an orchestra, with some fine solos. The second section is livelier and the singer performs a rather florid vocalise, accompanied by some very fine brass playing with piano in a contrapuntal section that deals with the 'quests'. This subsides to a slow and sinuously beguiling 'seductions' that builds to a climax.

Listen — John A Carollo: In the Garden of Earthly Delights (Symphony No 3)
(track 3, 6:48-7:29) © 2019 Navona Records LLC :

The last movement, 'Let the Evening Stillness Arouse', is calmer and provides a resolution to the previous movement, satisfying 'the yearning for human bonding as we indulge in our romantic affairs'. This is quietly lyrical and peaceful music. The overall feeling is one of tenderness and completeness, in spite of some more impassioned sections in the second half of the work. It ends quietly.

Listen — John A Carollo: Let the Evening Stillness Arouse (Symphony No 3)
(track 4, 2:38-3:14) © 2019 Navona Records LLC :

The material for this work was largely drawn from transcriptions of the song cycle Awake Humanity to Nature’s Beauty! which contained some settings of William Blake poems.

The accompanying Blu-ray disc features a documentary: The Making of Symphony No 3, along with a complete performance of the work in 5:1 surround sound. This gives valuable insight into both the composer and how this was created.

The recording and performance is first rate and this is a project that is well worth supporting and purchasing.

Copyright © 18 August 2020 Geoff Pearce,
Sydney, Australia




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