Julian Wachner: Symphony No. 1, ""Incantations and Lamentations"" and Voices

by Steven Bergman

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Friday September 12, 2014

Julian Wachner: Symphony No. 1, ""Incantations and Lamentations"" and Voices

Musica Omnia has released an extensive, three-disc set of music by the young composer/conductor, Julian Wachner. With over three hours of music to absorb and enjoy, it is blatantly evident why Wachner is such an in-demand musician.

As many musicians worship at the altar of the composers of pre-1900, from Bach to Mozart, Wachner clearly has a strong affinity for his Bernstein, Copland, and Stravinsky. His compositions, a diverse melange of material written over the past 25 years, show a strong dedication and understanding of the more current greats, in addition to Wachner's own mentor, Lukas Foss (1922-2009).

The most impressive works adorn the first disc of this collection. Wachner's "Symphony No. 1: Incantations and Lamentations" (2001) is a tremendous piece that give us our initial listen to his own ensemble, NOVUS NY, and The Choir of Trinity Wall Street, of which Wachner has been the director since 2011. The groups display a clear appreciation of Wachner's style as both a composer and their conductor, and create a powerful sound through the polyphonic sections, as well as a soulful interpretation of his softer movements.

Soprano Jessica Muirhead exhibits a strong, resonating sound throughout her contributions to this recording, especially on Wachner's two "Psalm Cycles." A string quartet, Muirhead, and Wachner himself present the composer's "Psalm Cycle I" (1989), and the Majestic Brass Quintet accompany's the artists on "Psalm Cycle III" (2003). Both pieces are predominantly lightly orchestrated, allowing Muirhead to completely draw in the listener with the sacred texts.

Two other works were commissions, and include "Come, My Dark-Eyed One," commemorating Boston's Back Bay Chorale in 2009, and Wachner's, "Blue Green Red," written for the International Trumpet Guild, with Trumpeter Stephen Burns.

Wachner's vast experience music directing and composing for church groups from Boston to Montreal, have clearly given the musician an expansive knowledge of the sacred texts, and his comprehension of massive orchestration shine through in a vast spectrum of sound. Wachner's work, though based in the current ideas of mixing styles, tonality and rhythmic structures, is very much a style all his own.

"Symphony No.1: Incantations and Lamentations"
Julian Wachner / NOVUS NY
CD and digital formats
Musica Omnia

Steven Bergman is a Composer / Playwright / Performing Arts Educator based outside of Boston, MA.