In March 1997, the California Symphony made its recording debut with this timeless CD, featuring the music of California composer Lou Harrison, with Grammy Award-winning vocalist Al Jarreau as the soloist in Harrison’s Symphony No. 4 (Last Symphony).

Funded in part by a special challenge grant from the California Arts Council, the disc received rave reviews throughout the music world.   The Los Angeles Times called it “a 40-minute beauty, deeply moving, but also deeply joyful…”  The Atlantic Monthly rated it “superb.”  Billboard described it as  a “diverse, highly accessible album,” adding: “Let’s hope there’s more coming from conductor Barry Jekowsky, an ideal interpreter of Harrison’s beautiful music.”
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USA Today wrote:  “Might this be the disc that gives the 80-year-old California composer the recognition he has long deserved?  The recorded performances are solid, caring and comprehending thanks to singer/narrator Al Jarreau and the California Symphony under Barry Jekowsky (a name to watch).”

In addition, Gramophone magazine named it “CD of the Month” in its August 1998 issue:
  “I must admit that I have never appreciated Lou Harrison’s music up to now.  Barry Jekowsky Barry Jekowskydirects here performances of such heartfelt intensity that I won’t make the same mistake again…. The works for percussion ensemble are brilliantly pungent in this recording and Jekowsky’s tender performance of Elegy, to the Memory of Calvin Simmons moved me to tears.”

And prominent Bay Area music critic Allan Urich wrote:

 “Lou Harrison could not have ordered up a more sumptuous 80th birthday present--the first compact disc devoted to his music by a major company, performed by one of America's brightest young ensembles, the ten-year-old California Symphony Orchestra, conducted by its debonair young founding maestro, Barry Jekowsky. The piece de resistance of this 80-minute anthology is the joyous Symphony No. 4 ("Last Symphony"), which draws on Harrison's love of Asian, Native American, and ancient European music and features as narrator pop vocalist Al Jarreau. Included also is a bright performance of Concerto in Slendro, one of the composer's most appealing and most popular explorations of Indonesian modes, a meeting of conventional violin (here played by Maria Bachman) and unusual percussion instruments. Solstice, of which Jekowsky conducts a portion, is a sizzling dance score written for dancer-choreographer Jean Erdman in 1949 while Harrison was still part of the avant-garde New York scene. Harrison remains living proof that a composer can be true to an aesthetic vision and still beguile with music that runs against the currents of his time. The works on this disc virtually dare the listener not to succumb.”

Barry with Al Jarreau during a recording session at Skywalker Ranch


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