> American Images 2 CD 943 [HC]: Classical CD Reviews- Sept 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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American Images 2
Sebastian CURRIER (b. 1959)

Verge (1997)
Joan TOWER (b. 1938)

Rain Waves (1997)
William BROHN (b. 1933)

I Got Variations (1999)
Dan WELCHER (b. 1948)

Phaedrus (1996)
John BIGGS (b. 1932)

Renaissance Bouquet (1995)
Charles HOAG (b. 1931)

SweetMelancholy (1990)
Verdehr Trio (Walter Verdehr, violin; Elsa Ludwig-Verdehr, clarinet; Silvia Roederer, piano)
rec. WFMT Studios, Chicago, no dates given

Currier’s trio Verge was inspired by the title of a piece from Schumann’s Kinderszenen, Almost too serious, so that each of the nine short movements of this piece bears an "almost" indication, e.g. the eighth movement Almost too little lasting 28 seconds! The nine movements are divided into cycles of three, each beginning with a pair of movements opposing each other. A beautifully crafted piece full of contrast and variety.

Joan Tower is a relatively familiar name and her music has already been recorded on several occasions. Her Rain Waves colourfully "explores the notion of a wave form".

I Got Variations by William Brohn is a short set of variations on Gershwin’s own Variations on "I Got Rhythm". An unpretentious and entertaining work.

Dan Welcher’s trio Phaedrus reflects on Plato’s discourse about the Appollonian and the Dionysian in that the first movement Apollo’s Lyre has a songlike quality whereas the second movement Dionysus’ Dream-Orgy is a lively dance. The piece, however, does not aim at philosophy for the debate (as far as Welcher is concerned) is still unresolved. It is just a fine piece of music.

John Biggs’ Renaissance Bouquet is based on Renaissance pieces by Dufay, Byrd, Gibbons and on anonymous Renaissance tunes, some of which will again be familiar, such as Watkins Ale. Another delightful set of miniatures of great charm.

In his humorous introduction to his piece, Charles Hoag recalls how his initiation to ragtime came from listening to his father playing ragtimes on "that dubious instrument, the ukulele". So, SweetMelancholy(lostyourdoll)SlowDragRag [sic, and in one word please], to give this short piece its full title, is a slightly tongue-in-cheek evocation of and homage to Joplin and ragtime. It provides this interesting collection with a unbuttoned, entertaining conclusion.

Again, this release (Volume 13 of CRYSTAL-Verdehr on-going series The Making of a Medium) is another well planned and magnificently played cross-section of works especially written for the Verdehr Trio by American composers from various musical horizons. There is much to admire and to enjoy here.

Hubert Culot

see also American Images 1

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