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Boyer: Balance Of Power - Orchestral Works London Symphony Orchestra, Peter Boyer

Boyer: Balance Of Power - Orchestral Works London Symphony Orchestra, Peter Boyer

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This album presents eight of the most recent works by Peter Boyer, one of the leading American orchestral composers of his generation. Balance of Power was commissioned for the 95th birthday of former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, while Fanfare for Tomorrow was composed for the inauguration of President Joe Biden in 2021. Each of these pieces displays Boyer’s vivid soundscapes and tuneful American sensibilities, from the cinematic sweep of Rolling River to Radiance, composed especially for this album. Boyer’s GRAMMY-nominated Ellis Island: The Dream of America (8.559246) has received over 250 performances and was televised by PBS.


Boyer's description of [the London Symphony Orchestra] as “one of the world's greatest orchestras” isn't hyperbolic but rather accurate. It shouldn't be overlooked either that as conductor he was directly responsible for coaxing from the ensemble the inspired performances the recording features.

The fourth album by Boyer (b. 1970) and his third in the Naxos American Classics Series presents eight works, six of them world premiere recordings. The tone is often celebratory, even triumphant, as exemplified by the stately Fanfare for Tomorrow, commissioned for President Biden's January 2021 inauguration; but melancholy is also present in affecting settings such as Rolling River (Sketches on “Shenandoah”) and, naturally, Elegy. As performed by the LSO, the material packs a visceral punch that ensures no listener's attention will drift as the music plays. The orchestral sweep one hears in John Williams' music finds its place in Boyer's too.

All of the material on Balance of Power is of recent vintage, the earliest work dating back to 2014 but most from the last two to three years. It opens rousingly with the aptly titled Curtain Raiser, as ear-catching and exuberant an overture as one could ask for. Boyer's gift for orchestration is immediately apparent, as is the effervescence of the LSO's execution. Strings, percussion, and horns combine for a dynamic, five-minute exercise in uplift, the result a thrilling start to the album.

The evidence at hand suggests Boyer's name might be mentioned in the same breath as those of Barber, Bernstein, Ives, Adams, and especially Copland. Like them, he writes works that have popular appeal and engage with immediacy. They're also, however, impeccably crafted and in no way lacking in integrity. Boyer isn't calculating: while he's one of the most frequently performed American orchestral composers of our time (his Grammy-nominated Ellis Island: The Dream of America is now one of the most-performed American orchestral pieces), his writing is sincere, honest, and authentic[.]


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