I received this unusual recording some weeks ago. I've delayed writing this review because I had and am still having trouble figuring out how to accurately describe it or convey what is going on. It definitely is different. I'm going to begin at the end with the third composition on this disc and by far the more recent one, 1999. The title "Fireworks" is simply not accurate here and certainly not in the sense of Handel's famous Music for the Royal Fireworks. It is rather a cross between a celebration of Los Angeles and his personal biography starting with his childhood. Enjoy it as a colorful display of a pleasant composition showcasing the entire orchestra and splendidly recorded.
The first composition on this disc was written just over thirty years ago in 1970, a very unhappy year for Goldsmith. All of his personal turmoil went into the composition and to top that off he wrote Music for Orchestra in the strict dodecaphonic (12 tone) form. Goldsmith has said that form allowed him to express his deepest feelings even though now that style is anachronistic. After listening to it a few times, you will not be humming any melodies or whistling tunes from this composition. That is why I started this review and suggest you start our listening with the last selection first. I cannot do any better than the composer's brief description of the three sections. The first section is turbulent, the second introspective and the third very agitated. The sound quality on this composition is beyond reproach and can be considered as being of demonstration quality.
The title selection of the disc is Christus Apollo. I can tell you exactly what it is in one word, it is a cantata. Oh, you've forgotten just what a cantata is? It is a musical composition with chorus, soloist and recitative. In this instance it is a star-studded showcase! Featured are the triad of the famous author, Ray Bradbury, the famous film composer, Jerry Goldsmith, and the equally famous actor, Anthony Hopkins. Start with the text written by Bradbury. Add Goldsmith's composition and conducting the London Symphony Orchestra, the London Voices Chorus and mezzo-soprano Eirian James. Connecting the four sections of the composition is narration by Hopkins done in his usual almost hypnotic voice and style. The complete title of the composition is: Christus Apollo: Cantata Celebrating the Eighth Day of Creation and the Promise of the Ninth.
That is the longest title I've written out in recent memory. As you have probably figured out, it features a very spiritual text. Goldsmith again used the dodecaphonic form (12-tone system) for this composition because he felt there is a great relationship between it and impressionism that was particularly suitable for Christus Apollo. Don't let the 12-tone system scare you off in this case. Musically the results are often very pleasing as well as appropriate as would be expected.
Though supposedly all three selections were recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London, Christus Apollo seems to me to not be quite as spectacular or realistic sounding as the other two selections which seem to be up to Telarc's current high standard for hybrid discs, and playable on any CD or DVD player. All three offered here as the premiere recording for each. A recommendation caveat is to pay attention to the type of compositional form or style. Most people will probably spot the famous Jerry Goldsmith film composer only in Fireworks.