Update! The symphony has now been recorded by the European Recording Orchestra with 92 musicians in Sofia, Bulgaria at the Bulgarian National Radio Studio 1. They turned in a great performance! Below is the program note for the symphony; then scroll down further and click on the links to hear a short excerpt from each movement from the preliminary pre-mastered mix.
The session recordings have been edited and mixed at the Parma Recordings headquarters in New Hampshire and will be mastered soon along with Michael Kurek’s previously recorded choral works, “Missa Brevis” (SATB with organ) and “Ave Maria” (SSA with harp and organ).
The album (see cover art below) is expected to be released by Naxos distributors in early fall of 2022 and will be available on Amazon, iTunes, and wherever commercial recordings are sold. Please watch this page for news about pre-ordering and bonuses for those who pre-order the album.
Two bonus planned and available only to those who pre-order, and at no charge, will include 1) a multi-part podcast on “The Making of Tales from the Realm of Faerie,” and 2) (especially for musicians) a copy of the pdf of the complete, 228-page conductor’s score along with a podcast of comments on specific features of the work’s orchestration. By the way, general comments about my style may be found now by clicking above on “My Aesthetic Philosophy” link at the top of the page.
The movements last 12, 9, 10, and 13 minutes for a total duration of 44 minutes and are written for large symphony orchestra (3333 / 4332 / Timp., 2 Perc./ Hp./ Pno-Cel./ strings 16-14-12-10-8).
This symphony’s subtitle, “Tales from the Realm of Faerie,” (“Faerie” being the archaic term for Fairyland) calls forth in my own imagination a kind of rich musical tapestry intertwining all the colors and scenes of many fairytale worlds I have loved. I conceived the work as a fantasia of fairytale impressions in sound, spinning out like golden threads from a magical, musical spinning wheel. I have no particular fairy story in mind but rather hope that childlike ears might simply lose themselves in this world, as would a child hearing fairytales being read aloud – in swashbuckling fanfares, love themes, pointillist fairy dust, the surprising appearance of an evil sorcerer, music for a grand ball at a castle, or anything else one might wish to imagine from one’s own storehouse of fantastical dreams, whether concrete or completely abstract.
However cinematic such images might sound, this symphony remains classical in its technique, with large-scale traditional forms, various contrapuntal textures, classic voice leading, developmental sections, and modulating key schemes reminiscent of the late Romantic and especially early twentieth-century symphonists. Beyond fairytale imagery on the surface, I hoped to capture the deeper spirit or tone of unspoiled beauty, innocence, nobility, heroic goodness, and hopefulness associated with that literary genre.
The first movement is in sonata form. The main themes of the second movement are in an ABA ternary design, but with each part preceded by the same (though varied) introductory music. Movement three is also in an ABA design, with a quicksilver scherzo in the outer parts framing a two-themed grand ballroom waltz part in the center. Movement four has a unique form that is like a large rondo but with an altered design, ABACBAC instead of the standard ABACABA, with four transitional sections connecting five of the parts.
Please note, these excerpts are from the preliminary mix but are not yet mastered. A few small noises will be removed when the recording is mastered. They may be updated at that time.
Movement One Excerpt (1:50):
Movement Two Excerpt (1:50):
Movement Three Excerpt (2:59):
Movement Four Excerpt (2:29):