Reviews / Commentary

The Arts | Renée Fleming surprises and delights, as always | Seattle Times Newspaper

Of “Buffalo Altar: A Texas Symphony,” Robert Freeman, presently the Dean of Fine Arts at the University of Texas at Austin, and Director of the Eastman School of Music from 1974-1996 and writes, “Frazier writes music that is both powerful and compelling, technically impressive from a professional point of view and at the same time accessible to a broad audience. He has successfully created a unique musical language that is identifiable as American and, more specifically, in works like “Buffalo Altar” , “Brazos de Dios” and “Music for the Birds” is regionally inspired by the cultures and landscapes of Texas.” Frazier explains, “This is a state that is rich in history, and the converging of a variety of flavorful cultures and natural elements makes it uniquely inspiring. Through artistic expression one can define, preserve and create strength and pride in a culture. The people and landscape of Texas are colorful and inspiring and tell great stories! I am happy to be telling these stories through music.”

Concert Review: Houston Chronicle: “Buffalo Altar, a narrated orchestral tale about a West Texas oilman who had a once-in-a-lifetime experience, charmed the Wortham Theater Center audience. The reminiscences about characters and habits disappearing from the state prompted knowing laughs. The work should have a nice afterlife among orchestras wanting a work that evokes the old times of Texas. In Buffalo Altar, written for the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y., Frazier set a fictional tale by Texas author Stephen Harrigan. The oilman, now 81, reminisces about the time he leased land from an old geezer who took him to see a prehistoric altar in a shallow cave lit only at sunrise. Along the way, the narrator invokes a few Texas myths, including the state’s allegiance to the automobile. Through an authentic accent and character, Texas actor Barry Corbin, dressed in tux, black Stetson and belt that screamed “cowboy,” provided the right verbal character and sounds of a Texan. Musically, Frazier wrapped the tale in familiar sounds of Americana. The largely consonant style and the orchestration were directly descended from the music of Aaron Copland (who also wrote a narrated piece, Lincoln Portrait) Episodic in the intertwining of narration and musical description, the piece was economically written. A couple of key motives or styles kept reappearing as anchors. They contributed to the long coda, which ended the performance stirringly. Frazier, in tux and string tie, conducted both works. The Houston Ballet Orchestra and added musicians responded well to his efficient leadership.” By CHARLES WARD, Houston Chronicle


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