Jack Gallagher – Symphony No. 2 Ascendant

What better way to present a new work than with a world-class orchestra and conductor? Jack Gallagher’s second symphony gets such a treatment, and the results are stunning. JoAnn Falletta and the London Symphony Orchestra perform with assurance, bringing out all the expressive energy of the music.

And there’s a lot for them to work with. Gallagher’s well-constructed Symphony No. 2 is tonal and tuneful; accessible without being shallow. Of this work he characterized it as “lasting 63 minutes, [the symphony] seeks an expansiveness of discourse possible, perhaps, only to an extended work.”

That bears out my impression of the symphony. Although it does last for over an hour, there’s no filler here. The work is only as long as it needs to be for Gallagher’s motifs to fully develop and arrive at their logical conclusions,

Like Malcolm Arnold, Jack Gallagher is a trumpeter-turned-composer. And like Arnold, his first-hand practical knowledge of the orchestra is apparent in his scoring. Although quite imaginative, it always sounds well-suited to the instruments he employs.

Also included on this release his short work “Quiet Reflections.” To my ears, this simple, elegiac work reminded me of similar music by Aaron Copland, without sounding derivative.  Note to classical radio stations: “Quiet Reflections” deserves some serious airplay.

Jack Gallagher: Symphony No. 2 “Ascendant” ; Quiet Reflections
London Symphony Orchestra; JoAnn Falletta, conductor
Naxos 8.559768

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