for Symphony Orchestra
Upon completion of his formal musical training in 1987, Matt’s orchestral “Melrose Overture” marked a new, exciting level of maturity and creativity in his journey as a composer. Resurrected from forgotten manuscripts in 2021, this Premiere recording brings the “Melrose Overture” into the light of day with the gifted players of the DNP Studio Orchestra. The recording’s cover graphic highlights the work’s rhythmic motif.
This energetic orchestral piece wraps different melodic “movements” into a singular work. The music opens with an explosive high-A from all three trumpets. A bombastic timpani solo takes over, followed by a single trumpet’s presentation of the melodic motif, which is answered by the full orchestra. Solos are plentiful throughout, including a virtuosic cadenza by the concertmaster. Slower lyrical themes are balanced with those featuring more rhythmical challenges. The conclusion builds harmonic dissonance between the instruments, until a unifying final chord.
Album Review: Melrose Overture
2021 / Dolce & Nuit Productions
Review by Kathy Parsons
"Melrose Overture" is an exciting orchestrated single from pianist/composer/educator Matt Johnson. Clocking in at just over eight minutes, the piece weaves together a variety of melodic themes or movements to create an energetic, multi-faceted work. Originally composed in the summer of 1987, right after Johnson completed his Master's degree at New England Conservatory in Boston, the work marked a new and exciting level of maturity and creativity for the young composer. At the time, Matt was living across the street from Memorial Hall where the Melrose Symphony Orchestra performed. He met with the conductor and the two agreed that Matt would compose a work dedicated to the orchestra. "Melrose Overture" was scheduled to have its first performance by the orchestra it was named for in the spring of 1988, but was taken off the program a week before its premiere. I can only imagine what a crushing experience that must have been, and the piece was shelved for many years - long enough that the computer files for the conductor's score as well as all of the parts became inaccessible. "Decades later, a chance remembrance of the work encouraged me to try to recover the files once more. I successfully located a source—halfway around the world—that was able to access and convert the files. With renewed energy, I began to re-engrave the entire Conductor score and all the players' parts. I assembled the best players, formed the DNP Studio Orchestra and recorded the Premiere during the summer of 2021."
The "Overture" itself has a very strong visual quality and the variety in its themes would make it an excellent choice for a movie soundtrack, but visuals are definitely not needed to thoroughly enjoy this powerful symphonic work!
Both the recording and the orchestral score for "Melrose Overture" are offered through Matt's site. The recording can also be downloaded or streamed from sites such as Amazon, Apple Music/iTunes, Spotify, Pandora and others.
On YouTube, you can follow the score as the music plays at https://youtu.be/uYvSyME1l6E
- always a fun thing to watch!
So, if you're in the mood for some music that is more classical than jazz or new age, be sure to look for "Melrose Overture"!