A TREE IN YOUR EAR
PHILIP KENT BIMSTEIN Half Moon at Checkerboard Mesa
WILLIAM GRANT STILL Miniatures
ALAN HOVHANESS Koke No Niwa (Moss Garden)
VIRKO BALEY Orpheus Singing
YUSEF LATEEF Saltwater Blues
MARK PHILIPS Sonic Landscapes (1989)
STEPHEN CAPLAN (Oboe and English
MUSICIANS SHOWCASE RECORDINGS
From his very first notes Stephen Caplan asserts himself as a subtle master
of his instrument(s). A pupil of Ray Still and Harry Sargous Caplan is first
oboe of the Las Vegas Philharmonic as well as being a leading light in Las
Vegas' artistic life.
Bimstein's Fantasy for oboe and taped frogs, crickets and coyotes is an American
equivalent of Rautavaara's Cantus Arcticus (a fantasy for taped birdsong
and orchestra) combining musical values with an image of time and place.
New music but not a whit intimidating.
Still's Miniatures have a keen-bladed poignancy in the hands of Caplan and
Carol Stivers (piano). Nothing lasts too long and each of the five segments
leaves you wanting more. The music itself is often unmistakably American
but there are times when we seem to be listening in on a lost work by Howells
or Goossens. The Hovhaness is characteristic of his Eastern world of water,
fountains, bonsai trees, contemplation, miniature palaces, manicured wildernesses
and time slowed to a crawl. A most affecting piece fulfilling one of the
greatest needs of our times. It is close, at times, to Delius's music for
Flecker's Hassan. Caplan is joined in the Hovhaness by John Beck
(percussion) and Kim DeLibero (harp). The composer is the accompanist in
Orpheus Singing - a work dedicated to Lutoslawski. Baley's long recitative
is not that far removed from Thomas Wilson's music for the BBC adaptation
of 'Cloud Howe' but it outstays its welcome as a piece of music. Lateef is
best known in jazz circles. He rejects the name jazz abjuring its crude overtones
and preferring the clumsier: auto-physio-psychic music! These blues are jazzy
with piano, bass and drums each doing what you expect in a jazz context.
Lateef plays by the rules. The oboe adds a pleasantly warm bluesy stratum.
Mark Philips Sonic Landscapes is in five movements. It is for oboe and taped
electronic music. This is the most challenging music on the disc although
the oboe is always in melismatic melodious flight. The moods are Daliesque,
pointillistic, alien, street junk culture and in the penultimate movement
take us as close as we come in this work to the oboe's reflective realm.
All oboe aficionados will want this disc. The only pity is that another one
or two works could not have been found to fill the disc out to 70 or 80 minutes.