SOUNDS OF AMERICA
The New York-based Horszowski Trio give voice to Dan Visconti’s exploration of contrasts, Lonesome Roads is also an absorbing exploration of what we know and what we don’t, in this case about Mozart. Rising well above its premise of kidnapping Mozart fragments, it even provides time at the end for Cambridge neighbour and dedicatee Robert Levin to engage in a cadenza. Flauta Carioca is a semi-classical flute concerto inspired by the composer’s Brazilian roots; Eurydice is a sumptuous 30-minute cello oration inspired by Berlioz’s Harold in Italy. The effect is cumulative. These are substantial concertos; they fill out well the two discs.
Lee is well served by a series of outstanding performances headlined by stellar soloists who sound as if they really care. Martin Brody’s essay, carelessly imagining bossa nova and Tonnetz ‘dancing together’, hits just the right academic note. Laurence Vittes
Visconti Black Bend. Lawless Airs. Ramble and Groove. Hard-Knock Stomp. Drift of Rainbows. Fractured Jams. Remembrances. Low Country Haze. Lonesome Roads a
Scharoun Ensemble; a Horszowski Trio Bridge F BRIDGE9386 (67’ • DDD)
Pictures of America from the Verge Ensemble’s director Dan Visconti’s music is much like the weather in the Midwest: if you don’t like it, just stick around; it’ll change in a few minutes. Not just from piece to piece, mind you – though it’s hard enough to reconcile the firm momentum of Hard-Knock Stomp (2000), the earliest piece in this collection, with the comparably forced ramble of Ramble and Groove (2009), which never quite finds the groove promised. Even within a single work such as Black Bend (2003), the contrasts between a spacious landscape and bluesy vernacular – or in Lawless Airs (2008), between Coplandesque lyricism and spare, pointillistic harmonics – often seem like two unrelated pieces strangely grafted together.
It would be tempting to label Visconti a miniaturist, since pieces like Remembrances (2008) or Drift of Rainbows (2009) are particularly efficient in distilling their emotional states. Even Fractured Jams (2006), his most self-conscious effort to span the full range of colloquial Americana in less than 15 minutes, never lets any of its four movements outstay its welcome. Pieces such as gramophone.co.uk
Low Country Haze (2009) and Lonesome Roads (2012), though, reveal entirely different levels of ambition. The former makes its mark in sonic terms, its rather conventional orchestration expanding to incorporate a gamelan of tuned wine glasses. The latter focuses on duration, inclusively embracing its wide range of musical contrasts rather than merely wielding them as stark juxtapositions. As ‘Lonesome Roads’, the collection’s titlepiece suggests, Visconti’s music evokes the physical landscape of America, a range of contrasts in an integrated whole. Ken Smith
‘American Anthem’ Barber String Quartet, Op 11. Serenade, Op 1. Dover Beach, Op 3 a Hanson String Quartet, Op 23. Concerto da camera, Op 7 b R Thompson Alleluia (arr Ying Quartet) Ying Quartet with a Randall Scarlata bar b Adam Neiman pf Sono Luminus F b (CD + Y) DSL92166 (74’ • DDD • DTS-HD MA 5.1 24-bit/192kHz)
Classics and newbies from Eastman-resident quartet The Ying Quartet, quartet-in-residence at the
GRAMOPHONE JULY 2013 III