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BY Charlie Richards

March 10 2009 12:00 AM ET

A world premiere
recording of a major new work by one of America's best known
openly gay composers is certainly nothing to ignore, in fact to
do so would seem almost criminal. While John Corigliano's 3rd
symphony, "Circus Maximus" may not be the best thing he has
ever penned (my vote would be for his opera
The Ghosts of Versailles

,) it is worthy of attention, and well worth hearing, even for
those who are uninitiated in the world of contemporary
classical music.

Corigliano, who
celebrated his 70th birthday last year (and still looks as
young and attractive as he's ever looked), has been a major
figure in the world of contemporary music for over forty years,
and the music seems to flow as easily and effortlessly from his
pen as champagne from a crystal decanter. His style has always
been varied and hard to define - in fact it would be almost
impossible to pinpoint what the distinctive "Corigliano
Style" is. The publication of his 1st Symphony in 1991,
dedicated to and inspired by many of his friends who has
succumbed to the AIDS virus, could be seen as an official
"coming out" of sorts; since then he has been an active
member of the gay community and has been profiled by and
interviewed in many gay publications, including
The Advocate

. To a wider public, he's probably best known as the composer
of the Oscar winning score for the popular film
The Red Violin

.

His Second Symphony,
published in 2001, earned him the Pulitzer, which makes it a
tough act to follow indeed. His third, subtitled "Circus
Maximus", followed in 2004, and receives its world premiere
recording here. In a sense, it is a bit of a let-down after the
intense and grandiose second, but it still has moments of great
beauty and originality.

Tags: Music

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