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SOUNDS OF AMERICA

Subtle authority: Stephanie Sant’Ambrogio and James Winn deliver special moments in the Brahms violin sonatas flexibility the violinist applies to this composer’s music. With Winn as sensitive and observant collaborator, Sant’Ambrogio taps deeply into the score’s roots, Brahms’s ‘Regenlied’, which inspired much of the sonata’s material.

The musicians bring warmth and passion to the Second Sonata. They vary articulation, dynamics and pacing with a subtle authority that defines the changing moods, all the while maintaining sure balances. In the Third Sonata, they emphasise dramatic contrasts, lifting phrases to fervent heights or holding back where the music inhabits more intimate realms.

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Along with the sonatas, Sant’Ambrogio and Winn exult in the propulsive and heartfelt gestures in the Scherzo in C minor, part of a sonata for Joseph Joachim that included movements by Robert Schumann and Albert Dietrich. Brahms’s contribution is the only movement that was published, though the compelling performance on this disc whets the appetite for the other entries in a piece Joachim and Clara Schumann played the moment the violinist received the score. Oh, to have been there! Donald Rosenberg

Burtner  Polyrhythmicana. Snowprints. (dis)Sensus NOISE with Matthew Burtner sax  Nathan Brock elecs Innova F INNOVA871 (47’ • DDD) PHO T O G R A P H Y

NOISE is both the name of the ensemble that performs Matthew Burtner’s music on this disc and a reference to many of the sounds that emanate from the speakers. But there’s no reason to be put off by anything Burtner writes. He employs an array of acoustic instruments, electronics and recorded sounds to create works of vibrant and haunting personality.

The title of Polyrhythmicana tells much of this piece’s story. The score revels in layered rhythms performed by musicians wearing click tracks. The five movements serve up a spectrum of sonorities on varied instruments (wrapped in aluminum foil to achieve novel resonances), as rhythmic patterns overlap, diverge, bounce off one another and keep the ear intrigued.

For Snowprints, Burtner made recordings of snow (no easy feat) and combined the delicate aura with acoustic instruments to create soundscapes of shimmering and mysterious beauty. The effect is hypnotic as the narrative moves on its slow, inevitable journey.

Burtner explores an entirely different galaxy of sounds in (dis)Sensus, whose seven movements (several extremely brief) conjure a series of inventive rhythmic and thematic relationships generated by improvisation and an interactive computer program. If that sounds dry and academic, the piece most assuredly is not. There are hints of jazz, wild flights – as in the movement titled ‘(vio)Lens’ – and surprising mixes of colour. It’s witty, engaging and bound to inspire repeated hearings.

The superb members of NOISE team with Burtner on saxophone and Nathan Brock at the computer in performances brimming with lively and unexpected incident. Donald Rosenberg

Ravel  ‘Intimate Masterpieces’ Introduction and Allegroa. String Quartetb. Chansons madécassesc. Cinq Mélodies populaires grecquesd cd Ellie Dehn sop acAlexa Still fl aRichard Hawkins cl  a Yolanda Kondonassis hp cdSpencer Myer pf  ab Jupiter Quartet  Oberlin Music F OC13-04 (63’ • DDD)

In her brief introduction to this new CD of Ravel for harp and friends,

Yolanda Kondonassis describes the Introduction and Allegro as ‘one of the most luscious pieces ever composed for the harp’. Her performances with distinguished colleagues from the Oberlin Conservatory gramophone.co.uk

GRAMOPHONE FEBRUARY 2014 III

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