Daniel Asia: Symphonies No. 2 & 3
Liner Notes   Cat. No. 80447     Release Date: 1993-01-01

The Phoenix Symphony, James Sedares

Daniel Asia's (b 1953) inspiration has, since the late 80s, come less from the severe midcentury European avant-garde and more from American composers—senior figures such as Aaron Copland and Leonard Bernstein, and contemporaries including the late Stephen Albert. All the while, certain elements of Asia's style have remained consistent. There's a preference for whole-tone sonorities, which can swing easily from ambiguous atonality to decisive diatonicism. Asia describes all his music as "quasi-tonal," at least in the sense that each composition tends to work back around to the harmonic region in which it began. There's also an impressionistic transparency of scoring; even in passages of great harmonic density, Asia's earliest chamber scores are marked by intricate timbral interplay. Finally, there's the rhythmic element: Asia's meters have become less complex, but they have retained a certain zeal and bravado.

Symphony No. 2 (1988-90) was fashioned partly from an earlier piece, the 1988 Celebration, written for a Massachusetts synagogue. The work carries a double subtitle: "Celebration Symphony" and "In Memoriam Leonard Bernstein." Aside from three earlier pieces for cantorial use, this is Asia's most explicit musical expression of his deeply felt sense of Judaism. Inspired by the texts rather than the music of Jewish liturgy, the symphony's Jewishness derives more from mood than from reference to specific modes or cantorial melodies.

Symphony No. 3 (1992) shares some materials with a contemporaneous commission, At the Far Edge (1991). As it turns out, the first forty-four bars of Symphony No. 3 are actually the Largo introduction to At the Far Edge. The bulk of At the Far Edge, given a new introduction, returns as the symphony's final movement. The earlier piece also contains much of the thematic and rhythmic material found in the symphony's first two movements. More than ever, Asia here adopts the broad, open accent of the most popular American art music—the somewhat jazzy rhythms of Bernstein, the soaring string effects of Bernstein and Copland, the throbbing brass utterances over bass drum rolls of Adams.

“Daniel Asia is one of our country’s most up-and-coming younger composers. Not to be missed by anyone interested in the future of serious music-making in this land.” —              -Fanfare

Phoenix Symphony

Daniel Asia: Symphonies No. 2 & 3

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Track Listing

Symphony No. 3: I. Maestoso
Daniel Asia
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Symphony No. 3: II. Adagio
Daniel Asia
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Symphony No. 3: III. Allegro
Daniel Asia
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Symphony No. 2 "Celebration Symphony": I. Ma Tovu
Daniel Asia
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Symphony No. 2 "Celebration Symphony": II. Ashrenu
Daniel Asia
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Symphony No. 2 "Celebration Symphony": III. L'kha Adonai
Daniel Asia
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Symphony No. 2 "Celebration Symphony": IV. Hine El Yeshuati
Daniel Asia
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Symphony No. 2 "Celebration Symphony": V. Halleluyah
Daniel Asia
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