SOUNDS OF AMERICA
C A M A C H O
P A B L O
P H O T O G R A P H Y
Mary Elizabeth Bowden: radiant in new repertoire for trumpet and varied accompaniments on her new disc blog at gramophone.co.uk/blog/piano-notes/ powerhouse-pianists-on-hot-june-nights – but the wait was worth it.
The performance is consistently fluent, meticulous, inspired and well recorded. Robert Paterson’s triptych Deep Blue Ocean starts with jazzy evocations, slips into Messiaen’s stained-glass harmony, goes salsa, then concludes with expansive pop ‘power’ chords that gently pulsate: a fun, uninhibited piece. Doug Opel’s Dilukkenjon is a stylistic pudding packed with dissonant repetition, post-minimal noodling and lyrical episodes that seem more forced than inevitable. By contrast, Amanda Harberg’s ‘Subway’ splices and dices rock/blues clichés into fresh, unpredictable patterns. Mary Ellen Child’s Kilter is a carefully crafted large-scale work characterised by repeated notes and a kind of Asian modality. Gosling and McMillen take the opening section slower and more suggestively than in Anthony de Mare and Kathleen Supové’s slightly faster, more incisive 1995 recording (XI Records).
Such is John Corigliano’s unerring ear for effective keyboard textures in Chiaroscuro that the tuning of the two pianos a quarter-tone apart never sounds gimmicky. This performance is no less marvellous than the Oppens/Lowenthal version (Cedille, 10/11US), although I prefer the lighter and brighter third movement in McMillen’s earlier recording with pianist
Sachiko Kato (Centaur). John Adams’s energetic yet arguably overlong Hallelujah Junction has never sounded better on disc, while Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues has the edge over the composer’s own recording with Oppens (Music & Arts) for Gosling and McMillen’s pinpoint détaché articulation of the churning bass-register clusters. Highly recommended. Jed Distler
‘Radiance’ Barber Three Songs, Op 10a Hallman Trumpet Sonataa D Ludwig Radianceb McMichael Totem Voicesa J Stephenson ‘Croatian’ Trioc Turrin Arabesqued. Escapadea. Fandangoe Mary Elizabeth Bowden tpts cMercedes Smith fl d David Bilger tpt eZenas Kim-Banther tbn bZoë Martin-Doike, bMiho Saegusa vns bFrank Shaw va b Jiyoung Lee vc bEdward Paulsen db adAlexandra Carlson, ceMilana Strezeva pf Summit F DCD655 (73’ • DDD)
Partnered in various configurations by pianist Alexandra Carlson and other friends, Mary Elizabeth Bowden makes a pitch for the trumpeter and piccolo trumpeter crowd with her debut CD. Although it’s mostly repertoire that only a trumpet player could truly, profoundly and deeply love, it is splendidly played and, except for Samuel Barber’s Three Songs, Op 10, entirely by ‘living, working’ American composers.
The best is James Stephenson’s erratically stylish, 13-minute Croatian Trio, written for the annual brass festival in Velika Gorica, south of Zagreb, in which Bowden, flautist Mercedes Smith and pianist Milana Strezeva hang with cool, indivisibly classical/jazz sounds. Bowden does her best work here. The most infectious, high-energy music comes from Joseph Turrin: his Arabesque for two trumpets gives Bowden and David Bilger an opportunity to fool indecently around; his Fandango for trumpet and trombone introduces trombonist Zenas Kim-Banther, of Rodney Marsalis’s Philadelphia Big Brass, who makes an eloquent partner in unfamiliar tonal terrain.
The title-track, Radiance, an adaptation of David Ludwig’s plaintive soliloquy for oboe and strings, shows just how chaste and radiant a piccolo trumpet can be, while the ‘Hypnotic’ slow movement of Joseph Hallman’s Sonata is true to its name, studded with radiant moments of its own. Saginaw-based Catherine McMichael’s Totem Voices gently invokes wolf, whale and mosquito, and the third of the transcribed Barber songs, ‘I hear an army’, is a brilliant audiophile track at high volume. Laurence Vittes gramophone.co.uk
GRAMOPHONE JULY 2015 VII