SOUNDS OF AMERICA
illuminated through deft deployment of colours and techniques, with bountiful variety to keep the ears awaiting the next glistening episode.
Lansky casts the 10 movements in Threads (2005) to emphasise specific expressive and sonic possibilities of percussion instruments, from lyrical (aria) and declamatory (recitative) to clamorous (chorus). The struck, strummed, sustained and brushed effects are juxtaposed with masterful sense of pacing and mood. Dashes of world-music rhythms and motoric figures keep the narratives in propulsive motion.
Two ensembles, Hammer/Klavier and Time Travellers, take up the challenges of animating Lansky’s scores, and they do so with captivating subtlety and power. Svet Stoyanov and Gwendolyn Burgett are the percussionists in Textures, in which they weave lines seamlessly with pianists Thomas Rosenkranz and Michael Sheppard. Stoyanov and Burgett join forces in Threads with expert colleagues Ian Rosenbaum and Ayano Kataoka. Donald Rosenberg
‘Beyond Shadows’ Chang Beyond Shadows Cherney Twenty-Two Arguments for the Suspension of Disbelief Harman Doubling Mellits Eleven Pieces for Flute and Piano The Nu:BC Collective Red Shift F TK432 (60’ • DDD)
Built around flautist Paolo Bortolussi, cellist Eric Wilson and pianist Corey Hamm, The
Nu:BC Collective put a cool, hip face on classical music in Vancouver. Their name is a play on the acronym for the University of British Columbia, where they are in residence, and where this CD of varied, highly entertaining music was recorded.
The concert is dominated by Brian Cherney’s Twenty-Two Arguments for the Suspension of Disbelief, based on the Capriccio for solo cello he wrote in 2010 for Matt Haimovitz; launched by a crunchy cello chord and fuelled by the gritty, chaotic response, the piece’s richly absorbing 23 minutes of beguiling, fragmented sounds take on an attractive semblance of cohesion unified by the relentlessly virtuoso cello part, in which Eric Wilson turns in an astonishing tour de force performance.
Adding clarinettist Cris Inguanti to the Nu:BC mix, Chris Paul Harman’s mesmerising Doubling would be a great competition piece. Based in part on a device in the third movement of Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique, Harman creates a series of fascinating sonic environments in which thrilling, at times almost unbearable tensions develop as the doublings and accompanying pulsings start to decay and drift apart.
Dorothy Chang’s Beyond Shadows adds percussionist Brian Nesselroad to produce a tool chest of interesting sounds, from tutti outbursts to crystalline beauty and a poignant farewell on a solitary piano. Marc Mellits’s Eleven Pieces for flute and piano features happy pipings, manic spurts and sweet, lyrical cooing; each is diverting in itself, and overall makes a most engaging impression. Laurence Vittes
‘Fantasy’ Di Liberto Fantasia sulla Cavalleria rusticana Hirtz Wizard of Oz Fantasy Mozart Fantasia, K397 Schubert Wandererfantasie, D760 Schumann Fantasie, Op 17 Jon Kimura Parker pf Jon Kimura Parker F FP0908 (75’ • DDD)
Resisting the temptation to make Schubert’s Wandererfantasie sound like the piano reduction of an orchestral score, Jon Kimura Parker subtly highlights the music’s numerous small touches, like the echo of the Erlkönig’s fluttering towards the end of the Adagio, or his reflective take on the Presto’s central section, making even more telling the brief emotional confusion he experiences in its wake, to underline its native pianistic nature. Parker’s performance of Schumann’s Fantasie is Romanticism in even fuller bloom, combining an organic use of rhetorical freedom with lithe energy and the rich, lyrical beauty of a Hamburg Steinway, opening with Prospero-like serenity, then using magical transitional phrasing to make space for each new episode. It is as if Parker’s idea of Romanticism were that personal responses, spontaneous as much as possible within the underlying structure, be part of the narrative form and influence its shape and flow.
Parker includes a wonderful novelty in the form of Mozart’s unfinished Fantasia in D minor, K397, for which he has supplied his own 90-second completion; it sounds added-on at first but turns out engaging and appropriate, with imaginative twists and turns. Sicilian pianist Calogero Di Liberto wrote his Fantasia sulla Cavalleria rusticana while he was completing his doctoral studies in Parker’s piano studio in Houston; it is a fine neo-retro addition to the repertoire which Parker thoroughly enjoys, as he also does William Hirtz’s gloriously Technicolor, rather serious Wizard of Oz Fantasy, originally a piano duet for Karen Kushner and Igor Kipnis, and reduced by the composer for one pianist. Laurence Vittes
‘Transformation’ Beethoven Violin Sonata No 5, ‘Spring’, Op 24 Ravel Le tombeau de Couperin Schumann Dichterliebe, Op 48a a Brett Polegato bar The Gallery Players of Niagara Gallery Players of Niagara F GPN14002 (71’ • DDD)
Musicians not originally cast in a masterpiece often ache to play that work, which is where transcribers come in. The art of transferring a score to another instrumental or vocal context is the impetus behind ‘Transformation’, a disc featuring The Gallery Players of Niagara performing beloved works by Beethoven, Ravel and Schumann painted in new colours. Such practices can make you pine for the original, but not here: the arrangements are so true to the sources, while providing fresh perspectives, that they seize attention.
Patrick Jordan’s adaptation of Beethoven’s Spring Sonata retains the violin but gives many of the solo lines to flute, with viola and cello playing much of the piano’s original material. The effect is more soft-edged than the original, partly since these instruments sustain in ways the piano can’t. It’s full of charm and delicacy, especially as shaped so gracefully by the Niagara musicians, including Jordan on viola.
For his transcription of Ravel’s Le tombeau de Couperin, Trevor Wagler studied both the original solo piano version and the composer’s orchestration. Titbits of both can be heard in the new guise, such as the oboe solo at the start and sonorities elsewhere that sound strikingly like what (you think) you’ve heard before. Along with the oboe, the ensemble includes clarinet, violin, cello and piano.
Schumann’s Dichterliebe receives a palette of new hues in Jordan’s arrangement, which replaces the piano with string quartet, double bass and, most subtly, guitar. The baritone part is unchanged, and Brett Polegato invests the texts with tonal beauty and eloquence in collaboration with his expressive colleagues. Donald Rosenberg gramophone.co.uk
GRAMOPHONE MARCH 2015 V