The Muradian has all the life and slender sprightliness
of the Benjamin versions of the oboe concertos by Cimarosa and other
figures of the Italian baroque. Vivaldi must surely also have been an
influence crossed with the fruitiness of Villa-Lobos. In the midmost
of the three movements the sun-warmed attentive dialogue amongst the
strings prompted thoughts of Mozart's delightful Sinfonia Concertante
K364. It must be my fixation on the neo-Baroque-romance of it all that
obscures my hearing the Armenian folk flavour claimed for the works
by the liner notes.
Muradian is a fascinating figure. He was born in Ashtarak,
Armenia on 17 October 1921. He studied at the Spendiarian School (surely
a reference to the composer Spendiarov, one of whose orchestral pieces,
Almast, was once included on an HMV Melodiya LP). He moved to
the US in 1950 and has played viola in various US orchestras including
the New Orleans Symphony (presumably he was in the orchestra when they
recorded Rorem's memorably phantasmagorical Lions). He has written
68 concertos for 35 different instruments. Muradian writes that 14 of
these concerti are the first in world musical literature and 26 are
the first in American and Armenian music. He has written 56 songs for
voice and orchestra and eight for chorus and orchestra - in six languages.
Kosins' piece lends its name to the title
of this hallmark Crystal anthology. The four brief movements are simple
and beguiling. This is the best of light writing with no awkward moments
of pastiche to get in the way of sincerity. Kosins is active as a pianist
in the USA's supper clubs. This heritage plays its role in its guileless
avoidance of affectation and complexity and its unfeigned lyrical address.
The movements are: Rendezvous for one; La Tango de la White
Butterflies; The Love I Saw But Once; Adieu Piaf, Adieu;
Morning Must Come. His Love Letter and Winter Moods is
on Crystal CD314.
John Biggs' Suite (Tango, Waltz,
Basse Danse; Grecian Dance) is altogether more tart -
under the Bartok's hegemony. This work was written for Peter Christ
expressly for this disc. It is extremely well played by all concerned.
La Traille studied with Grant Fletcher
(a totally neglected figure but every bit as deserving of recording
as Robert Ward and Don Gillis). The useful notes tell us that he has
written a mammoth four movement symphony, a viola concerto and a ballet
Ojibwa based on the legends of the Chippewa Indians. His father
was Chippewa. He has also composed two string quartets, Arizona Nights
(dedicated to the memory of RonaldLoPresti) for clarinet, harp and
strings and a Concertino for soprano sax and clarinet ensemble. The
Oboe Quintet is fashioned on the fast -slow-fast model. There are moments
of great and memorable tenderness in this writing - try the andante.
The flicker-chaffing Presto Vivo is part Malcolm Arnold and part
I would very much like to hear more La Traille's other
works and indeed Muradian's. Peter Christ and his collaborators are
the soul of enthusiastic discretion and sensitive response.