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Review for Sonata for Sonata for Solo Bass Trombone

Bass trombone unaccompanied. This is a fine, three movement work for solo bass trombone. The three movements ("Thundercracke," "Quite," and "Derby") are highly evocative and pose good but reasonable challenges on the performer. Valve trills, multiphonics, nimble technique, fast tonguing and soft, legato playing in the pedal register are all required but well rewarded. The "Sonata" was commissioned by R. Charles Jacks.
— Doug Yeo, bass trombone Boston Symphony Orchestra

Reviews for Symphony No. 1, "Fields of Crimson"

Links to online reviews:
James Acker reviews "Fields" on the Frontier Army Lodge of Masonic Research.

This is a documentary piece about the American Civil War, covering five days in the summer of 1863 starting at a point just south of Gettysburg. The concept is interesting. There is just less than half an hour of music, beginning with an introductory movement depicting dawn at a tranquil camp of Confederate troops, broken by the Assembly bugle calls and the march north. After this, short narrations, written by Justin Cober, form meditative evening links that each lead into one of the Symphony's central movements which give an impression of the fighting over those first days of July. A final short fifth movement is called 'Remembrance'.

The spoken text is very poignant; the music is illustrative without any cohesive symphonic structure, a series of orchestral improvisations reflecting the words, yet doing this effectively and with an orchestrator's confident skill. The fierce battle of Day 3 sounds out the orchestra's weighty brass section [listen -- track 7, 2:43-3:40] and in the finale is that unmistakable picture of the American landscape [listen -- track 9, 2:24-3:20].

This is a recording of the work's recent first performance on 1st March 2003, which would no doubt have been a moving occasion, for the work is well designed to make its statement live about the evil of war, but it should have been a more powerfully structured symphony. In its present form its competence is in its moods. Todd Goodman was born 1977 in Bedford, Pennsylvania and has just completed a season as composer-in-residence with the Altoona Symphony, a year that has given him an admirable opportunity.
Music & Vision's Patric Standford

Scored for orchestra and narrator, young composer Todd Goodman's first symphony is a reaction to the tragedy of the Civil War. The composer grew up near a battlefield in Pennsylvania, and this is his reaction to the loss one family experienced there. The narrator tells the story, and the orchestra either sets the scene or reacts. His language is very tonal, rooted in Copland and the great film scores—and as such is evocative of the complex subject matter Goodman tackles
— American Music Center's "New Music Box" Review.

Living History Through Music. Todd Goodman's stirring "Fields of Crimson" show the awesome power of music that can uplift us on one hand and make us uncomfortable and challenge us on the other.  To hear the story of the Gettysburg battle told through music brought the history lesson to vibrant life.  That is something no textbook could match.
Margaret Moses, Altoona Mirror

A moving work combining narration and beautiful music. The task of bringing something new to the battle of Gettysburg is a daunting one. Mr. Goodman's work has realized that goal brilliantly. From the opening movement, the sense of the ominous events to come is evident. The use of a narrator, speaking the words of a young child, effectively adds dimension to this story. We hear the child move from a sense of excitement and wonder through revulsion to resignation and the music underscores that journey effectively. The second movement describing the build up to the battle with its shades of Ives is wonderful and the heartfelt epilogue to the battle brings home the cost of such insanity better than words could alone.
Jack Rose, executive director Granite State Symphony Orchestra
 
Tears came to my eyes as I heard the Altoona Symphony Orchestra perform this magnificant work. There are more books published on the American Civil War than any other event in our history. It is extremely difficult to discover something new and exciting about that most engaging period. "Fields of Crimson" by composer Todd Goodman is both new and exciting. Tears came to my eyes as I heard the Altoona Symphony Orchestra perform this magnificiant piece of music. The narration at the close of each days fight is delightfully novative. Fields of Crimson could easily have been used in the sound track of the movie Gettysburg. Anyone who enjoyed that film, or Gods and Generals, will love Todd's master piece. If you have ever walked the battlefield in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, read of that costly struggle, or just like refreshingly new classical music you will love Fields of Crimson. Having studied, collected artifacts and wirtten about the Civil War for over forty years it is difficult to find something new and interesting. I couldn't wait to get a copy of Fields of Crimson on CD!
— Larry Yantz, civil war author and historian

A historic performance for one of the country's promising young composers. Todd's Symphony was pure pleasure to listen to. I had a high sense of anticipation to hear the recording, and Todd's creative, elegant work was full reward. He managed to weave modern elements into the symphony in a way that made it lively and memorable. Specifically, the rebel yell from the orchestra during Pickett's Charge and the elegiac singing at the opening of the final movement were unforgettable. I imagine that this will be viewed in time as an historic performance for one of the country's promising young composers.
Chris Frear, editor Bedford Gazette
 
A wonderful tribute to the Battle of Gettysburg. The Altoona Symphony Orchestra conducted by Nicholas Palmer, premiered Symphony #1 "Fields of Crimson", on March 1, 2003. This recording is the live performance of that premier. The symphony is 5 movements long and has narration between each of the movements. Carolyn Donaldson performed the narration.

Goodman's symphony tells the story of Gettysburg. The 5 movements represent different days involving the battle of Gettysburg in the form of prelude, three days of battle, and solemn finale.
 
Program notes given in the CD jacket help the listener, perhaps one less familiar with the details of the Battle of Gettysburg beyond the fact that it was "some Civil War battle" to paint a mental picture of what the composer is trying to create. But even without the notes, that picture comes through loud and clear by the tonal qualities of the instruments.

The narration is reminiscent of personal accounts recorded in such books as both William G. William's "Days of Darkness" and Gregory A. Coco's "A Strange and Blighted Land". It seems odd that the actual words of
Gettysburg citizens like Albertus McCreary, Tillie Pierce or Sarah Broadhead were not used directly rather than those of a fictionalized witness.

The closest comparison to a well-known older work is perhaps to Gustav Holst's "The Planets". Each planet in Holst's composition had its own u nique musical idea. Todd Goodman did the same thing in "Fields of
Crimson". Each day dawned and waned with intensity in between. However, unlike "The Planets", each movement of Goodman's piece would not be able to stand on its own. You could play "Mars" and "Venus" or any other of
the planets as separate pieces but not "Day 1" or "Day 2" or any other of the movements in "Fields of Crimson" and trust them to be comprehensible without program notes.

The work is also suggestive of Robert W Smith's four- movement band piece titled "The Divine Comedy". Smith used instrumentation to give the mental picture of what Dante put into words. Goodman also made sure to portray each dawning as a different day with different emotions.

He also used snips of fixed, and fairly conventional, ideas to add the subtle color to his musical painting. The use of dissonance to express motion, trumpets giving bugle calls during battle, steady marching tunes for armies on the move and the like work effectively in a piece like this.

The composer says what he wants to say in each movement and then finishes it. Each of the movements are short and to the point. He doesn't bore the listener with too much of the soft sounds of preparation or annoy us with too much of the dissonance and chaos of the battle. Anyone could listen to this piece and be able, when it is finished, to picture in his or her mind exactly what Goodman intended.

"Fields of Crimson" is a wonderful tribute to the Battle of Gettysburg and to those who fought and lived there in 1863. It would be highly recommended to anyone who is interested in, or passionate about, the Civil War.
— Mary Hawthorne, Civil War Interactive  www.cwipremium.com