CURIALE:  Gates of Gold (Arrival: A View from Sea/River of Tears/Call of the Mountain); Awakening (Compassion/Forgiveness/Joy); Adelina de Maya (Movements 1 and 2); The Multiples of One
Royal Philharmonic Orch/Joseph Curiale, cond.

BLACK BOX  BBM 1050 (F) (DDD) TT:  46:42


Black Box is a new British label "featuring an eclectic mix of world premiere classical recordings, contemporary and 'jazz'....(with) a catalog that appeals to inquisitive music lovers the world over."  According to information from the U.S.  distributor, American composer Joseph Curiale represents "a new generation of American composers...a unique voice, with hints of the influence of Bernstein, John Williams, the almost Zen-like spirituality of Arvo Prt and even the minimalist leanings of Steve Reich and John Adams."  This debut recording is impressive in some ways, disappointing in others. 

Production/presentation leaves much to be desired.  Nowhere, either in the CD booklet or on the CD itself, are timings given for the tracks, nor the total overall timing, perhaps because the latter (46:42) is slight value for a full-priced CD.  The booklet cover, as seen above, lists only "Awakening" when this is only one of the works and utilizes less than a fourth of the CD's playing time.

Gates of Gold, dedicated to the Chinese Communities of North America is based on the Chinese immigration to California during the Gold Rush period, in tribute to a family of Chinese friends of the composer.  It surely has limited "oriental" sound in its three movements (Arrival: "A View from Sea," "River of Tears,"  "Call of the Mountain").  Awakening (Songs of the Earth) has three sections:  "Compassion," "Forgiveness" and "Joy."   Composed after a near-death experience in 1994, it was written during a six-month period of seclusion where, "being re-connected to the sacred Earth in the tranquil Southern California area in which I live did more to heal me than any medical intervention could have ever done at the time." Adelina de Maya is dedicated to the composer's sister, Adeline Medeiros. There are two untitled movements to this work which, overall, take about 11 minutes for performance.  Multiples of One is, "a kind of mantra...a prayer of supplication and thanksgiving to this loving universe of which we are all a part and from my own deepening sense of connectedness to everyone and everything."

The CD begins impressively with Gates of Gold.  The influence of John Williams is very apparent; the rousing French horns impressive indeed soaring over the full orchestra.  The music could well be for a grandiose travelogue or big-scale movie.  There's lots of action, a touch of Copland perhaps, but Gates of Gold, like the other music on this CD, lacks memorable tunes.  There is a lovely solo guitar in Adelina de Maya.  The Multiples of One which concludes this CD is a rather monotonous miniature (5:23); one cannot help but wonder why (according to the program notes) it took a half-year to compose.  Most of the music on this CD sounds to me like New Age Music, which may appeal to many.  A definite plus is the sonic quality -- there is a big, resplendent sound to the RPO as here recorded, with brilliant high frequencies and solid bass --although I suspect some electronically-produced sounds are present.  If you listen to the beginning of the CD you'll probably be intrigued, but interest is not sustained.

R.E.B. (May 2001)