'One of Anderson’s most scintillating scores, rhythmically intricate, rich in unexpected and often eerie sounds...'   The Sunday Times

Instrumentation

4 (III & IV = picc, IV = picc detuned ¼ tone).3 (III = ca).3 (II = Bb clarinet detuned ¼ tone, III = Eb clarinet + bcl).3 (III = cbsn) - 4. trumpet in D (= Bb ptpt).3 in C (II = trumpet detuned ¼ tone).3.1 - perc (4): glsp/mar/crot/cast/t.bells/BD/2 susp.cym (medium & slightly larger)/whip/2 tpl.bl/claves/vib/2 susp.cym (medium large & large)/3 anvil (small, medium & large)/2 tpl.bl(medium &large)/tgl/tamb/SD - harp - pno (=cel) - synth (=pno sound; detuned ¼ tone) - strings

Availability

Score 0-571-53884-3 on sale, parts for hire

Programme Notes

Fantasias was commissioned by The Cleveland Orchestra with the generous support of Jan R. and Daniel R. Lewis. Whereas most of my previous orchestral pieces have been in one continuous movement, this work is in separate movements of varying length. The main advantage of this multi-movement form is that it allows much stronger contrasts and more variety of forms to be used within the same work. Fantasias aims to exploit these possibilities. I may possibly add more movements to it at a later date. The tradition of the fantasia in Western music is that of caprice and deliberate willfulness on the surface of the music, as in the wonderful keyboard Fantasias of C.P.E. Bach. Caprice is certainly the characteristic most evident in my own finale: the music rushes headlong from one idea to the next, wildly changing texture and direction every few bars – with just two moments of repose and slackness to allow the listener (and the composer!) to get their bearings. The extremes surface contrasts hide a deeper underlying harmonic and formal continuity, which holds the music together despite all the swerves and gives it an overall sense of goal, which emerges clearly at the end of the movement. Otherwise the most obvious features of these fantasias are their contrasted scoring: for example the first movement uses only the brass, whilst the second, although it uses the full orchestra, features very rich string and wind textures. The second movement is a meditative nocturne in several simultaneous layers. Very slow, almost motionless string textures (with many changes of unusual bowing techniques) are pitted against fast but strangely distant fanfares on wind and some brass (sometimes using ideas from the opening movement). Longer and calmer melodic lines and ideas emerge from time to time. Whether fast or slow, Fantasias is a celebration of the modern symphony orchestra, of which the Cleveland Orchestra is a world-class example. Knowing I was writing for this wonderful orchestra and Maestro Franz Welser-Möst allowed me completely free hand whilst composing. I am very grateful for this opportunity and have tried to make the most of it. Fantasias is dedicated with affection, admiration and gratitude to my publisher Sally Cavender, whose tireless energy in promoting contemporary music is also cause for celebration.

Reviews

‘Anderson’s first multi-movement work for orchestra, and, for all their subtle interconnections, the five pieces that make up Fantasias aim at maximum variety and contrast. The opening fantasia, for brass alone and sounding like a Gabrieli sonata with a postmodern makeover, is followed by a movement overflowing with ideas and luscious, deliquescent textures, and a whispering, creaking nocturne apparently inspired by rainforest sounds. The tiny, evanescent scherzo and breathtaking prestissimo finale both introduce quarter-tones, giving a fuzzy strangeness to some of the harmonies. It’s a wonderfully rich score.’ 
The Guardian (Andrew Clements), 8 August 2010

‘A piece which sets out to pitch sound against motion in a succession of brilliantly imagined polyphonies and is expressly designed to excite and tantalise and challenge and exercise. Even the extended “Nocturne” at its heart hums to a profusion of Bartokian insect life, all manner of con legno, slap-pizzicati, knocking and scratching effects conspiring to produce hyperactivity against a calm backdrop.’
The Independent (Edward Seckerson), 8 August 2010
 
‘Fantasias… exploited bravura, quick thinking and nifty articulation that the NYO demonstrated in abundance, underpinning the music’s propulsion and stimulating its brilliance.’
The Daily Telegraph (Geoffrey Norris), 9 August 2010
 
'Raucous in the best sense, it set up one of Anderson’s most scintillating scores, rhythmically intricate, rich in unexpected and often eerie sounds (double basses particularly ear-catching), and with a vein of lyricism...'
The Sunday Times (Paul Driver), August 2010

 

Fantasias

Helsinki Music Centre, Paavo Hall (Helsinki, Finland)

Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Nicholas Collon

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Casa da Música (Porto, Portugal)

Orquestra Sinfónica do Porto Casa da Música, Brad Lubman

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Also includes 'In lieblicher Bläue' with Carolin Widmann, vln (Schott)

Barbican Hall, Barbican Centre (London, United Kingdom)

BBC Symphony Orchestra, Edward Gardner

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Hear and Now

BBC Radio 3 (United Kingdom)

BBC Symphony Orchestra, Edward Gardner, BBC Singers, Nicholas Kok, Students from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Richard Baker

Fantasias

Record Review - Fantasia IV

BBC Radio 3 (United Kingdom)

London Sinfonietta, Oliver Knussen, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Sakari Oramo, CBSO Chorus, Simon Halsey, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Vladimir Jurowski