Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Ned ROREM (born 1923)
End of Summer (1985)
Book of Hours (1975)
Bright Music (1987)
The Fibonacci Sequence
Recorded: Potton Hall, Suffolk, October 2001
NAXOS 8.559128 [59:59]


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Rorem is probably best-known for his numerous songs, song cycles and other vocal music, but he has also composed – and still does compose – much orchestral and chamber music. The present release focuses on three chamber works for various instrumental forces, of which Book of Hours for flute and harp, completed in 1975, is the earliest represented here. The title of the piece and that of the eight movements refer to the canonical times of the day for Christian prayer. It thus opens with Matins and ends with Compline thus rounding off a whole liturgical day. The outer movements are roughly similar in their contemplative mood whereas the other movements proceed in roughly symmetrical arch form. The music displays a remarkable unity, while at the same time revealing new aspects of the initial material stated at the outset of Matins. To a certain extent, Book of Hours may be heard as a set of variations.

End of Summer written in 1985 for the Verdehr Trio who recorded it some time ago (Crystal CD 742) is a work full of often whimsical fantasy, particularly so in the first movement Capriccio. Here brief allusions to Satie, to Brahms and other musical sources surface from time to time. The Brahms quotation is particularly clear but I am not quite sure about all the others. The first movement is a fanciful kaleidoscope, although much of the music is also based on the opening theme stated by the violin in the first bars. The second movement Fantasy similarly develops material stated by violin and clarinet with which it opens. Mazurka, a Rondo in all but the name, alludes to the old Polish dance rather than to what Chopin or Szymanowski made of it.

Bright Music for a rather unusual quintet consisting of flute, two violins, cello and piano. It is more in the nature of a suite or a divertimento in five contrasted movements. There are two dance-like outer movements and a central Scherzo framed by two slower sections. Chopin’s so-called ‘Funeral March’ Sonata acts as a unifying force. The piece is another example of Rorem’s imaginative handling of his basic material (his own or that by other musicians). The music is full of surprises, unexpected harmonic twists and capricious rhythmic devices.

Rorem’s approach is entirely his own. It may often take you by surprise, delight or irritate, but the composer’s sureness of touch is never in doubt. The young players of the Fibonacci Sequence obviously enjoy the music and respond with zestful, committed readings of these sometimes enigmatic works.

Hubert Culot

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