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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    



Charles Wakefield CADMAN (1881-1946)
Piano Trio (1914) [24.21]
Violin Sonata (1930) [24.57]
Piano Quintet (1937) [19.51]
The Legend of the Canyon (1920)
From the Land of the Sky-Blue Water (1909-13) arr Gaylord Yost
Paul Posnak (piano)
Peter Zazofsky (violin)
Ross Harbrough (cello)
Bergonzi String Quartet
rec 3-6 Jan 2000, Gusman Hall, University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida
NAXOS AMERICAN CLASSICS 8.559067 [75.41]


Crotchet   AmazonUK   AmazonUS

Where will this Naxos series go next? Cadman is certainly a recondite figure although, as hearing this disc will confirm, his music is lyrically rewarding.

Cadman was of the Arthur Farwell Indianist camp. His opera Shanewis, in which he used native Indian music, achieved considerable success. He gave lecture recitals with the Indian mezzo Tsianina Redfeather. However I detect little of that world in this music.

The contours of the Piano Trio suggest an allegiance to searching Gallic lyricism. Here he stands at the confluence of the Franckian stream on one side and the Brahms on the other. Saint-Saens and Tchaikovsky are also presences. The music is florid and ecstatic with the first movement gliding along like an athletic swan. Despite some awkwardness in ensemble the music achieves a sanguine confidence and loquacious flood. This is Elysian music - sentimental but for the most part not cloying.

The Sonata is taken by Zazofksy a Bostonian who studied with Joseph Silverstein. He is no stranger to esoterica having performed the Busoni violin concerto with the BBCPO/Gunther Herbig on BBC radio 3 in 1982. He has a searching forward unacademic sound. The work inspired by the Pacific coast and its desert hinterland was written in Fresno in 1929 and premiered the next year. It reminded me of the Dunhill and Ireland first sonatas. The skittery playfulness of Brahms Second Piano Concerto in the first movement contrasts with the raindrop piano and beguiling subtlety of the middle movement. Cadman obeyed dramatic convention for the ending.

The Quintet is a noticeably more modern piece. It remains strenuous but the textures are lighter - less Brahmsian in density and of a lighter dancing quality. There is a Franckian striving for new and passionate heights and a startlingly ominous dissonance at end of first movement.

After such a start I have my fingers crossed that Cadman's First Symphony will be next in the queue. Its premiere was treated to an NBC broadcast on 15 March 1940. The composer was interviewed before the performance and expressed his profound gratitude to the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the conductor Albert Coates. He said that working with the LAPO had been a very happy experience. The Symphony is in three autobiographically programmatic movements portraying a fairground, factory life and the struggle between labour and the bosses - resolved in optimism rather than doom. The Symphony which I have heard in that Coates directed premiere and also in the hands of Dan Winston Vogel directing the BBC Concert Orchestra is vividly rustic - Cadman being excellent as the poet-painter of the outdoors. The music has a Dvorakian swing and a grandeur in the swirling high strings which appear in the first movement and also open the finale. The music is wheezy and brusque - a whirl of gaudy life fading into a tired sunset.

Until the entertaining First Symphony arrives on the scene you can now through this inexpensive disc access the laid-back and romantic world of Charles Cadman.

By the way is the cover a detail from the same Niagara Falls portrait used for the Grofé orchetsral collection on Naxos?

Rob Barnett

A SELECT LIST OF OTHER WORKS BY CADMAN

Four American Indian Songs, for voice and piano (1907)

The Vision of Sir Launfal, cantata for female voices and orchestra (1909) Pittsburgh

"At Dawning," for voice and piano (1911)

Daoma, opera (1912)

Idealized Indian Themes, piano suite (1912)

To a Vanishing Race, for string orchestra or full orchestra, originally for piano (1913)

Piano Trio {1914)

The Garden of Mystery, one-act opera (1915) f.p. 20 March 1925, NY

Thunderbird, suite for orchestra (1916) 9 Jan 1917, Los Angeles

Shanewis, (The Trobin Woman) opera (1917) f.p. 23 March 1918, The Met

String Quartet (1917)

Oriental Rhapsody from Omar Khayyam, for orchestra (1921)

The Sunset Trail, operatic cantata (1922) f.p. 5 Dec 1922, Denver

A Witch of Salem, opera (1925) f.p. 8 Dec 1926, Chocago

The Willow Tree, radio opera (1925) fbp NBC 3 Oct 1933

The Father of Waters, for mixed voices (1928)

Hollywood Suite, for orchestra (1932)

Dark Dancers of the Mardi Gras, for orchestra (1933)

American Suite, for strings, also for full orchestra (1937)

Sonata in G, for violin and piano (1937)

Symphony, Pennsylvania (1939)

Aurora Borealis, fantasy for piano and orchestra (1942):

A Mad Empress Remembers, tone drama for cello and orchestra (1944)

Huckleberry Finn Goes Fishing, an "American overture" (1945).


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