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Ian Krouse: Symphony No. 5 etc

Michael Dean (bass-baritone), Jens Lindemann (trumpet); UCLA Gluck Brass Quintet; Seocho Philharmonia/Jong Hoon Bae (Naxos)

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0
8559907_Krouse

Ian Krouse
Symphony No. 5 ‘A Journey Towards Peace’*; Fanfare for the Heroes of the Korean War; Symphonies of Strings Nos 1& 2
*Michael Dean (bass-baritone), *Jens Lindemann (trumpet); *UCLA Gluck Brass Quintet; Seocho Philharmonia/Jong Hoon Bae
Naxos 8.559907   69:23 mins

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California-based Ian Krouse (b1956) is perhaps best known for his development of the guitar quartet, with some 11 composed to date. However his output is far wider, and this orchestral album reflects an important aspect of his work as a public composer with a powerfully eclectic commemorative voice.

The central two works were co-commissioned by conductor Jong Hoon Bae’s Seocho Philharmonia for the 70th anniversary of the Korean War. The short, stirring Fanfare for the Heroes of the Korean War was premiered by them at a memorial event in South Korea in 2021. Here it becomes a kind of coda to a 2017 version of Krouse’s Symphony No. 5, which itself brings together three standalone works composed between 1998 and 2006.

Intended to underscore the ‘very special relationship between the United States and the Republic of Korea’, the Fifth Symphony too contains bright fanfares and a muscular patriotism couched in Copland-esque sweeping colours, performed with spirit by trumpet soloist Jens Lindemann and the orchestra.

But the mood is just as often ambivalent. While the second movement ‘Of the Apocalypse’ utilises a Korean melody in a dark foreboding that reflects the real-world complexity of the Symphony’s subtitle, A Journey Towards Peace, the final movement setting of Whitman’s ‘On the Beach at Night’ – supply sung by Michael Dean – also ends ominously.

Less convincingly performed but with inventive textures, the Symphonies of Strings Nos 1 and 2 (1993) are based respectively on an old Hasidic song and popular Renaissance theme.

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Steph Power