The music of English composer Julian Anderson suggests a latter-day Sibelius who has heard some electronic music and some contemporary world music traditions. He has written a good deal of music for chorus, an aspect of his work suggested by the well-wrought Alleluia that here received its world premiere. He is perhaps especially effective when writing lightly programmatic works for large orchestra, a talent that has brought him some of Britain's top residencies. The chief attraction here is In lieblicher Bläue ("In lovely blue"), a "poem for violin and orchestra" whose imagery is inspired by a poem of Friedrich Hölderlin that likens a church steeple to a flower blooming against blue sky. Both violin and orchestra are manipulated to suggest brilliance and a hyper-Romantic intensity. Violinist Carolyn Widmann transmits the force of the work even though the listener is deprived here of her actions following stage directions (for part of the work she turns her back to the audience, for example, symbolizing the poet's increasing withdrawal from society). This is a work that might have benefited from a bonus video disc or file. But the final The Stations of the Sun, from 1996, is also a highly effective work, a general evocation of the seasons for a large orchestra with a massive percussion section. The London Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir under Vladimir Jurowski are nicely recorded at Southbank Centre with an immediacy that captures the considerable excitement of these live performances.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim