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SOUNDS OF AMERICA

Whirlwind colours: Leonard Slatkin and his Detroit Symphony Orchestra savour the propulsive music of Cindy McTee

Dream (2004), a homage in seven sections of eerie and fantastical invention. Scored for string orchestra, percussion and computer music, the score mixes electronic crunches and swirls with dizzying string figures and a Bach chorale that heightens the aura.

In Double Play (2010), Ives is the inspiration in the opening movement, ‘Unquestioned Answer’, and ticking clocks pervade the second, ‘Tempus fugit’. It’s a cascade of diverting activity – sometimes calm, often clamorous – that Slatkin and the Detroit musicians fill to the sonic brim. Donald Rosenberg

O’Riordan  ‘Strange Flowers’ Sonata rapsodicaa. Water Liliesb. Pressing Forward, Pushing Backc. Dying Lightd. A Strange Flower for Birds and Butterfliese. Lacrimosab c Reuben Councill fl aeMarianne Gythfeldt cl  de Lawrence Stomberg vc abcdeHolly Roadfeldt pf  Ravello F RR7883 (73’ • DDD)

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The six works on ‘Strange Flowers’ reveal a composer for whom imagery is a defining inspiration. Each of the pieces – beautifully played – has a title that establishes a mood or a particular emotional world. The sounds within the narratives capture the ear through tranquil or vibrant animation.

Kirk O’Riordan (b1968) focuses on nature in several works, evincing an Impressionistic affinity for atmosphere and instrumental colour. The disc derives its name from PHO T O G R A P H Y

A Strange Flower for Birds and Butterflies, a piece based on a haiku by Matuso Basho that places clarinet, cello and piano most notably in delicate and hypnotic interactions. Two works for solo piano, Water Lilies and Lacrimosa, show O’Riordan’s penchant for sustained lines and harmonies saturated in shimmering tonal hues.

Although much of the music presented here rarely raises its voice above a hush, O’Riordan also engages in gentle bursts of frisky activity, as in the second movement of Sonata rapsodica for clarinet and piano. The buoyancy doesn’t last long, as the music returns to the hauting utterances of the opening movement. Similarly, the disc’s two other works favour poetry over drama. The propulsion that often keeps flute and piano in motion in Pressing Forward, Pushing Back is interrupted by expanses of songful repose. Dylan Thomas’s ‘Do not go gentle into that good night’ was the motivation for Dying Light, which has moments of vehemence for cello and piano amid passages of melancholic or prayerful beauty. O’Riordan is a deeply sensitive composer who savours going gently into the night. Donald Rosenberg

‘Italia’  ‘Bellissimo Seicento!’ Bertoli Sonata I Castello Sonatas: Libro primo – VII; VIII; Libro secondo – VII; VIII (two recordings) Fontana Sonatas – VI; IX; XII. Sonata a due Frescobaldi Il primo libro – Toccata IV Marini Sonata XI Rore/Pasquini Ancor che col partire Piccinini Corrente. Toccata Michael McCraw bn Manfredo Kraemer vn  Dolores Costoyas gtrs Elisabeth Wright kybds  early-music.com F EMCCD7774 (74’ • DDD)

What a wealth of wondrous old music keeps pouring from sources hither and yon, much of it from Italy in the early 17th century. Here a famous composer, Girolamo Frescobaldi, shares the bill with lesser-known experts. Many of the works feature the dulcian, the Renaissance precursor to the bassoon. With a timbre of woody resonance, it functions charismatically as soloist and becomes a splendid harmonic partner in continuo passages. The dulcian is often teamed in exuberant or lyrical dialogues with the violin – one delectable example being Castello’s Sonata ottava (from Libro II), which is so irresistible (and so winningly dashed off by bassoonist Michael McCraw and violinist Manfredo Kraemer) that the recording includes both studio and live versions. What comes before is equally pleasurable. Castello opens the programme in sprightly and affecting fashion, and then allows his colleagues to have their say. Two Piccinini pieces for solo theorbo enable Dolores Costoyas to display artistry of utmost refinement and flexibility. Harpsichordist Elisabeth Wright, who elsewhere plays the organ, glistens in the luxuriant writing of Rore’s ‘Anchor che col partire’, a madrigal arranged for keyboard by Ercole Pasquini.

Violinist Kraemer and McCraw work up many storms along the way, relishing the treasures at their fingers, bow and reed. Donald Rosenberg gramophone.co.uk

GRAMOPHONE APRIL 2014 V