Navona Records ( recently sent me three CD’s for reviewing. Being that I’m a bit overextended right now with several projects demanding my attention all at the same time, please accept this quick thirteen-in-one overview.


Sparks – miniature works for orchestra (NV6050) – 13 compositions for symphony orchestra by an equal number of American composers: GangstaJay Anthony Gach; Still MotionRain Worthington; FragmentsMarga Richter; A Tango FantasyPhilip Rhodes; SummertimeGeorge Gershwin; Prelude for CharlesSteve Winteregg; In MemoriamDouglas Andersen; Event HorizonBruce Babcock; Crown of the ContinentStephen Lias.

Navona’s Executive Producer Bob Lord successfully oversaw the production this CD recorded in various locations and on several dates. The packaging is simple but manages to include lots of notes which are expanded on line on Navona Reords website (


Film music, from Prokofiev’s scores for the Eisenstein’s epics of the Soviet era to John Williams’ compositions for the screen of today have had an important part in the development of 20th century music and that of today. And yet, the only opportunity we have to hear film music is in the occasional pops concert when the conductor has the inclination to program it.

Here comes an anthology which is really not a collection of pieces conceived as film music, but which given their brevity, their episodic nature and their avoidance of formal structure (overture, symphony, symphonic poem, etc.) would work beautifully as incidental music for film. Hopefully they will find a place in the hearts of enterprising music directors willing to step outside the box of 19th century formality inhabited by most of our orchestras. Other than the surprising inclusion of Gershwin’s Summertime among this baker’s dozen of musical gems, I was not familiar with the names or the music of most of these composers, other than that of Rain Worthington, whose intriguing work I have reviewed in the past.

In typical Navona fashion the recording orchestras are from Eastern Europe: Siberian State Symphony Orchestra…Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra…Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra, other than England’s Wembley Players, led by Bruce Babcock. Eastern European musicians come from some of the great conservatories of Europe and their crackerjack musicianship and elegant musicality gives away their provenance at once. Maestro Petr Vronsky leads the Moravians and Maestro Vladimir Lande helms the Siberians with flawless accuracy, eliciting a big, expansive sound from their musicians. Kirk Trevor leads the Slovaks with Richard Stolzman as the clarinet soloist in a sultry Summertime. The Wembley Players are superbly led by composer Bruce Babcock.

Now I am about to set out on a search of discovery of more music by these composers, and hope that our risk-loving friends at Navona Records will consider producing an entire CD with the music of any one of these very talented composers.

Rafael de Acha

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