A special eight-page section focusing on recent recordings from the US and Canada
Beethoven ‘Complete Music for Piano and Cello’ Robert DeMaine vc Peter Takács pf Leaf Music (LM233 b • 140’)
Cellists must be eternally grateful to Beethoven for his role in transforming their instrument from supporting player to fully fledged ensemble colleague. The evolution of the cello in this regard can be traced in the five sonatas the composer wrote over nearly two decades – the piano serves as protagonist in the two sonatas from 1796 before Beethoven gives the cello equal status in the three remaining works (1809, 1815). Whatever the instrumental relationships, cellist Robert DeMaine and pianist Peter Takács savour the narratives in shapely and meticulous performances on this album, which also includes variations on operatic themes by Handel and Mozart. The two early sonatas enable Takács to reflect the dexterity and command of Classical style in which Beethoven the virtuoso pianist basked, even as he welcomed the cello along for the ride and the chance to make the occasional pertinent observation.
Once Beethoven revs up the dialogues between cello and piano starting with the Sonata in A major, Op 69, the writing becomes increasingly adventurous, dramatic and expressive. Here, DeMaine, principal cellist of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, asserts himself with stylish and nuanced assurance, bringing nobility to the lyrical lines and engaging in animated discourse with the piano.
The shorter sonatas of Op 102 find the musicians keenly attentive to Beethoven’s formal and harmonic inspirations, especially the audacious fugue that ends the final sonata. In the three light sets of variations, the piano takes the upper hand(s), and Takács, whose probing 2011 traversal of Beethoven’s complete piano sonatas was reissued last year on Cambria Master Recordings, applies elegant artistry to every gleaming flourish and turn of phrase. Donald Rosenberg
Lanzilotti . Wollschleger ‘Enfolding’ Lanzilotti with eyes the color of time Wollschleger Outside Only Sounda
String Orchestra of Brooklyn New Focus (FCR331 • 47’) a Recorded live at Fort Greene Park, Brooklyn, NY, October 17, 2020
The String Orchestra of Brooklyn’s new album features first recordings of works that transform notions of what 22 strings and half a dozen percussionists can do.
The Kanaka Maoli composer Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti’s with eyes the color of time, a finalist for the 2022 Pulitzer Prize for Music, has a devotional style that at times suggests earlier models. Her six pictures at an exhibition refer to works of art featured at the Contemporary Museum in Honolulu in the late 1980s by George Rickey, Deborah Butterfield, James Seawright, Toshiko Takaezu and David Hockney – the latter’s set for L’enfant et les sortilèges. Lanzilotti’s music is Impressionistic, with a muted palette and an underlying sense of pace alongside its apparent randomness. The opening ‘the bronze doors’ seems smudged in fog, the cellos and basses in ‘les sortilèges’ are painfully eloquent, there is ecstasy in the raspings of ‘silhouette’ and ‘mahina’ is the most intense movement, before the final ‘enfolding’ recalls the beginning.
Scott Wollschleger’s Outside Only Sound, recorded live, was rehearsed, as the commission required, for only ‘a few minutes prior to the performance’, and as the sounds of the Brooklyn park scrape themselves together into bits of pitch and texture a luminescent glow begins to emanate; eventually its electric urban energy consummates in the tinkling of tinyxbells. In order for the work to fulfil the other requirement, that it ‘make sense in an outdoor environment’, the players use stopwatches in order, the composer says, to ‘function as one of a group of insects in a field, or like a gaseous cloud of sound’. Laurence Vittes
McClelland Autumn 1964a. Autumnalb. Cædmon’s Hymnc. The Defective Recorda. The Fields of Novembera. Five for Pianod. Garden Abstractb. Goinga. Hail Lovely and Puree. Insomniab. Labradora. Memory of Summer Facing Westb. Poem Composed in Sleepb. The Politiciana. Sea Roseb. Snowstorm in the Midwesta. Storma. To One Who Revisited an Old Gardenb. These Last Giftsf b Krista River mez fAlex Guerrero ten aThomas Meglioranza bar cRobert May, cMargaret Dudley, c Thomas McCarger, cSuzanne Schwing spkrs ab Donald Berman, dBlair McMillen pf cDavid Enlow org cefThe New York Virtuoso Singers / Harold Rosenbaum Naxos American Classics (8 559906 • 73’ • T)
The catalogue of William McClelland (b1950), as viewed on his website wmcclelland.com, is relatively modest in numbers, divided largely between vocal works and instrumental pieces for jazz ensemble. Naxos’s new release focuses on 15 of McClelland’s songs (no jazz), ‘all individual songs (no cycles)’, as the composer rather pointedly comments in his booklet essay. Curiously, and presumably unofficially, groupings or pairings of songs on similar subjects occur throughout, whether the two autumn songs (tracks 2 and 3), the two settings of modern British poets, Betjeman and Larkin, in tracks 3 and 4, ‘Autumn 1964’ and ‘Going’, or the penultimate pairing of ‘Garden Abstract’ and ‘To One Who Revisited an Old Garden’, where the poems of Hart Crane and Catherine Kirsopp juxtapose light and dark. McClelland’s choice of poet includes William Carlos Williams (‘Labrador’, ‘The Defective Record’), James Wright (‘Autumnal’, ‘Snowstorm in the Midwest’), Emerson’s second wife, Lidian (‘Poem Composed in Sleep’), and Hilda Doolittle (‘Sea Rose’, ‘Storm’). The last-named’s brief ‘Hail Lovely and Pure’ is the text for the central motet in the programme which, with the piano suite Five that immediately gramophone.co.uk
GRAMOPHONE OCTOBER 2022 I
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