> American Images CD 942 [HC]: Classical CD Reviews- Sept 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Paul CHIHARA (born 1938)
Shōgun Trio (1989)a
David DIAMOND (born 1915)

Duo for Violin and Clarinet (1999)
Marc SATTERWHITE (born 1954)

Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones (1994)c
Jonathan D. KRAMER (born 1942)

Serbelloni Serenade (1995)b
John BIGGS (born 1932)

Medieval Dance Suite (1994)a
Donald ERB (born 1927)

Sunlit Peaks and Dark Valleys (1994)b
Verdehr Trio (Walter Verdehr, violin; Elsa Ludewig-Verdehr, clarinet; Kim Schmidta, Gary Kirkpatrickb, Paul Barnesc, piano)
Recorded : WFMT Studios, Chicago and Grand Auditorium of the Cleveland Museum of Art (Donald Erb), no dates given

Chihara’s Shōgun Trio was written as a tribute to the Verdehr Trio and uses material from the composer’s musical Shōgun, hence the title of this short piece which is characterised by much cantabile writing betraying its vocal origin.

In 1995 David Diamond wrote a trio for the Verdehr Trio who have performed it and recorded it since (CRYSTAL CD 746). In 1999 he composed the Duo for Violin and Clarinet for Walter Verdehr and his wife, the clarinettist Elsa Ludewig-Verdehr. This short piece in a single movement falling into five contrasted sections is a remarkable study in counterpoint.

The title of Satterwhite’s trio Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones is inspired by a science fiction short story by Samuel R. Delaney. The trio aims at evoking visions inspired or suggested by the title which "calls up images of dazzling, swirling brilliance" rather than by the real content of the short story. The overall form of the trio is an extended Rondo "conveying something of the idea of a helix". On the whole, this colourful piece is the most advanced work in this programme though it is quite accessible.

Jonathan D. Kramer completed his Serbelloni Serenade in Italy, at the Villa Serbelloni run by the Rockefeller Foundation. Originally the composer viewed his piece as a suite of sharp contrasts, "non sequiturs, discontinuities and unrelated material", but the intense and concentrated work on the piece had it otherwise, so that the finished work has more unity and coherence than originally planned, though it has its share of contrasts and of post-modernist near-quotations and allusions.

I was surprised and delighted to read that John Biggs had been a pupil of Flor Peeters at the Royal Flemish Conservatory in Antwerp. (He also studied with Roy Harris, Lukas Foss and Ingolf Dahl). His Medieval Dance Suite is a delightful miniature based on old tunes from France, England, Germany and Italy, many of which will be familiar.

Erb’s Sunlit Peaks and Dark Valleys is exactly that. The outer lively and brilliant movements frame a sorrowful elegy inspired by the bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City some years go and partly based on Jesus Loves Me.

This release offers a good selection of works written for the Verdehr Trio demonstrating the wide-ranging variety of the composers’ approach to the medium. Many fine works here that repay repeated hearings, especially in such outstanding performances.

Hubert Culot

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