Although Alvin Singleton's vivid imagination and stirring subject matter are rooted in American culture and history, his rhetoric, techniques, and idioms are cross-cultural, and rather more polystylistic and international than nationalistic. If A Yellow Rose Petal (1982) reflects a kind of rowdy Texan pride in its louder passages for brass, it is counterbalanced by many sensitive and delicate passages for woodwinds and strings that belie the swaggering moments; and the fanfare After Broken Crumbs and the slowly building, montage-like Shadows (both 1987) reflect concerns that are much broader in human interests than their allusions to Americana might suggest. Singleton's orchestral music is multilayered, hypnotically patterned, and rhythmically elaborate, yet for all its complications and sometimes brash dissonances, it is tonal in direction, clear in execution, and far from chaotic. These recordings by the well-rehearsed Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, under Robert Shaw and Louis Lane, were first released by Nonesuch in 1989, and like many CDs in this reissue series, the playing is fine but the sound quality is less than ideal. In this case, though, the recordings are all digital, and with some volume adjustments, details come through decently.
Alvin Singleton Review
by Blair Sanderson
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