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Beyond Beethoven ... 20th Century Chamber Music
Max REGER (1873-1916)

Serenade, for flute, violin and viola in G major, Op. 141A (1915) [15.46]
Árni EGILSSON (b. 1939)

In the Twilight, for flute, violin and viola [14.02]
Bruce BROUGHTON (b. 1945)

The Fingerprints of Childhood, for flute, violin and viola [20.04]
Les Amis Musicales: (Cynthia Ellis, flute; Jeanne Evans Skrocki, violin; Janet Lakatos, viola)
rec. Reger: Little Bridges Hall of Music, Pomona College, Claremont, CA, USA, 16 March, 2004; Egilsson: Herbert Zipper Concert Hall, Colburn College of Performing Arts, Los Angeles, USA, 8 August, 2001; Broughton: Little Bridges Hall of Music, Pomona College, Claremont, CA, USA, 19 January 2004. DDD
CENTAUR CRC 2778 [49.53]

This Centaur release from the flute, violin and viola ensemble Les Amis Musicales is their first recording project. The have chosen three scores that have a special meaning for them. The title of the release, Beyond Beethoven ... 20th Century Chamber Music alludes to Beethoven’s Serenade for flute, violin and viola in D major, Op. 25 from 1801, a work which brought them together as an ensemble.

The Reger Serenade is a favourite of the American trio who recognise the beauty of the slow movement. It has become a touchstone work for them in performance. The repertoire for flute, violin and viola is not wide and this trio welcomed the new works that Arni Egilsson and Bruce Broughton wrote for them.

Reger composed the present Serenade in 1915 Beethoven’s own trio for the same grouping. Reger wrote two Serenades both of which give the lie to the notion that his music is heavy, over-scored chromatically, too complex or somehow unpalatable. These works are delightful from start to finish. The G major score is designed in the traditional fast-slow-fast, three movement structure.

Árni Egilsson’s notable single movement score In the Twilight was commissioned by Les Amis Musicales. The Icelandic composer was asked by the violist Janet Lakatos to ensure that the score was tonal, colourful and technically demanding but above all very different from the Beethoven’s D major Serenade. Egilsson explains that the silky smoothness of the alto flute complements the dark beauty of the viola. The versatility of the violin inspired the opening of this accessible work.

The Fingerprints of Childhood was composed by Bruce Broughton, the seven times Emmy Award-winning TV and film composer. American-born Broughton is an experienced chamber music composer. His score is an approachable and is divided into three movements. Broughton explains that the title refers to the impact that our earliest experiences have on shaping the rest of our lives.

The opening movement is entitled Improvisation. The central movement is a set of Variations in four short sections. The work closes with a movement called Ouspenskian Recurrence, named after the Russian author, mathematician and mystic, Peter Ouspensky.

Les Amis Musicales demonstrate glove-tight ensemble from ghostly flitting scherzo-like movements to desolate slow sections. Their intensity is impressive as is their rhythmic ferocity. An impressive performance all round from an ensemble worth looking out for.

The overly technical booklet notes are laid out in rather confusing manner. All the information is there apart from composition dates for the Egilsson and Broughton pieces. The sound quality is perfectly acceptable and well balanced.

An interesting release from those wanting accessible music away from the mainstream.


Michael Cookson

 

 



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