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Rick SOWASH - music on four CDs
Enchantement d'Avril

Trio No. 1 Voyage of the Spirit: (I. Moderato [4:40]; II. Lento [ 4:52]; III. Lento, Poco Mosso, Andante [3:24]; IV. Allegro [4:42])
Trio No. 2 Enchantment of April (I. Maestoso ma tranquillo, Allegro [7:20]; II. Lento [6:11]; III. Allegretto [6:34])
Trio No. 3 November Shadows (I. Allegro [5:13]; II. Lento [6:31]; III. Allegretto [3:36])
Trio les Gavottes; Lucien Aubert, clarinet; François Adolf, cello; Jean Tatu, piano.
Total playing time [65:05]

Sanctuary at 3.00 a.m.
Sanctuary at 3.00 a.m. for Bb clarinet and piano [6:27] 2000
Anthony Costa, clarinet, Phil Amalong, piano
Lullabye for Kara for cello and piano [7:17] 2002
Phil Amalong, piano, Jeff Schoyen, cello
Variations on a Hiking Song for piano solo [15:52] 1992
Phil Amalong, piano
Impressionist Suite No. 2 for oboe, clarinet and bassoon ((I. Cassatt; A Lullabye [3:32]; II. Caillebotte; Precision [4:13]; III. Sisley and Bazille: Joyful Skies, Lament for the Fallen [5:06]) 2000
Mark Ostoich, oboe, Ron Aufmann, clarinet, Mark Ortwein, bassoon
The View from Carew - Romance for Bb clarinet, cello and piano [10:00] 2000
Anthony Costa, clarinet, Jeff Schoyen, cello, Phil Amalong, piano
Total playing time [52:45]

Eroica
Sunny Days for violin, clarinet and piano; 1994, rev. 1996 [17:55]
(I. Moderato [4:52]; II. Allegretto [5:12]; III. Moderato [3:45]; IV. Vivo [4:06])
Convivial Suite for violin and cello (I. Fugue [2:20]; II. Waltz [2:44]; III. Blues [1:16]; IV. March [2:05]; V. Adagio [1:34]; VI. Finale [2:52])
1999 [12:51]
Impressionist Suite No. 1 for oboe, clarinet and bassoon (I.Monet: a seascape [2:01]; II. Renoir: the play of colors [2:46]; III. Manet: Spanish subjects [7:26]) 2000 [12:13]
Eroica - Piano Trio No. 5 (I. Allegro [12:27]; II. Adagio [5:38]; III. Presto [9:49]) 2000 [27:54]
Total playing time [71:51]

A Portrait at 50
Harvest Hymn and Harvest Dance: Homage to Willa Cather, for cello and piano, 1980
A Little Breakfast Music for oboe, clarinet and two violins (Orange Juice, French Toast, Eggs and Bacon, Honey on English Muffins and A Variety of Herb Teas), 1976
The Cliffs Above the Clear Fork, for cello and piano, 1980
Une Pavane Americaine: Hommage á Ravel, for flute and piano, 1990
Cape May Suite, for oboe, violin, cello and piano (Morning at Seaside, Victorian Garden, Dinner at Louisa's, and Ghostly Waltzes at Congress Hall), 1993


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AVAILABILITY AND MORE INFORMATION ABOUT RICK SOWASH http://www.sowash.com/

The Cincinnati-based lyrical composer Rick Sowash has written four trios of which there are three in this confidently outgoing recital.

The Second Trio Enchantement d'Avril gives its name to the album. It carries the Sowash signature from the Finzi-meets-Gershwin first movement to the lulling Debussian sweetness of the lento. It has a finale which speaks of a composer at peace with himself. There is in this music a lightness in the step and although the work has some warmly surging moments the Trio finally slips smilingly into an untroubled sleep. The music is placid and full of smiling graces. The title is from Elizabeth von Arnim's novel 'Enchanted April'.

The Voyage of the Spirit is more troubled. It tracks a spiritual journey from deeply sad and mysterious to Mozartian simplicity to the Anglo-lyricism of a solitary singer (a little like Howells). It rises from contemplation to hoarse tension and onwards to a hunted and haunted closure. If the music occasionally slides across the road from sentiment to sentimentality that's one of the concessions you must make when listening to Sowash.

November Shadows is more diffuse with a strong Indian rhythm, desolation, gloomy Bachian cello solos and a clarinet song of consolation. The dancing finale uses convivial Central European rhythms. The Great God Pan never dies ... so writes the composer.

The Trio Les Gavottes perform with bravura and sensitivity throughout. They are recorded a mite too closely. In the November Trio the clatter of the clarinet keys can be heard which some may find off-putting but I doubt that this will distract you for long.

==========================

Sanctuary at 3.00 a.m. is for clarinet and piano. It has a Finzian curvature and the reflective Thoreau spirit. There is some stellar figuration for the piano as well as a big tune.

The Lullaby for Kara is for, in this case, spun by a peculiarly gutty-toned cello. The music was prompted by the sight of a friend's daughter asleep.

Then comes the unassuming Variations on a Hiking Song for solo piano. This ends with a touching Requiem for Richard Sowash the composer's father. The Hiking Song in question is Friedrich Moller's The Happy Wanderer - now admit it: you always wondered who wrote that song.

The Impressionist Suite No. 2 is a real Mozartian cassation: husky and with a warmly consonant smile. The music has a lilt and a lift in its step.

The View From Carew refers to the Carew Tower which is the tallest building in Cincinnati. It is for clarinet, cello and piano - a really nice piece and superbly played by all three artists here. The sense of remoteness and loss uncannily conveyed is almost palpable. Classic FM should consider programming this.

=====================

Eroica

Sunny Days (1994, rev. 1996) is in four movements. There are said to be Belarus folk songs in this piece. Certainly there is sadness in this dance as well as a touch of Joplin's The Entertainer. The cargo of the second movement is carried and cherished by the clarinet while the third movement is a raindrop meditation. The finale is marked Vivo - a real optimists' farewell with a skip in its stride and a hint of Broadway (3.18).

The Convivial Suite is for violin and cello and is in six movements. Along the way we encounter a carol, a saunter and a secret smile, the bluesy gloom of In the Everglades and yet more references to the folk music of Belarus.

The First Impressionist Suite encompasses portraits of Monet (a seascape which does not work all that well - too stilted and lacks flow); Renoir in which there is a slow play and cascade of colours and Manet which is Hispanic: graceful and dignified.

The Eroica Trio conveys a gritty battling courage. The music smacks of Smetana and Dvorak and does not let go of determination. There is even some Shostakovich at 1.07 in last movement as well as nice attacking tone in the violin at 9.10.

=======================

Sowash - A portrait at 50

Homage to Willa Cather has the touching simplicity of a folk sampler.

A Little Breakfast Music .... well you can tell from the title that this is a picture of the tastes, smells and experience of breakfast - or at least Anglo-Saxon versions of that meal. Orange Juice is a tart little portrait for oboe, clarinet and two violins. French Toast offers a nod to Poulenc. Eggs and Bacon sounds like a confection of renaissance ensemble music, Holst and Copland. Honey on English Muffins (muffins are not English but if Eric wants to think of them in that way that's fine). The piquant Herb Tea movement is a fastidious study in serenity.

Cliffs Above The Clear Fork is for cello and piano. Its strangely English blending of repose and pastoral ecstasy is very familiar. It would work well alongside the 1910s vintage chamber music of Herbert Howells.

Une Pavane Americaine - Hommage à Ravel draws on the template of Ravel's Pavane pour une Infante Défunte. Along the way it offers helpings of Gershwin, jazz and Barber. This piece for flute and piano is especially lovely.

The Cape May Suite reflects family memories. Cape May is a Jersey shore town where the Sowashs spent happy family holidays. Morning at the Seaside is rather general in effect and not very 'marine'. In A Victorian Garden the violin and oboe languidly entwine as lovers while Dinner at Louisa's is affable and at ease. Here there is no pressure - only the apex of relaxation. Ghostly Waltzes at Congress Hall is peopled with the creaking wraiths of 1890s waltzes.

The disc is powerfully and unapologetically recorded.

These four discs present a composer quite at his ease amid the tonal world and feeling no need to pour dissonance into the mix. The references points are Poulenc, Gershwin, Finzi and Copland.

Rob Barnett

see also

Rick SOWASH (b.1950) Chamber Music with clarinet Anecdotes and Reflections for violin, clarinet, cello and piano (1989) Street Suite for violin and clarinet (1976) Daweswood; Suite for violin, clarinet, cello and piano (1980) Mirecourt Trio (Kenneth Goldsmith, violin; Terry King, cello; John Jensen, piano) Craig Olzenak (clarinet) Recorded (? 1991) GASPARO GSCD 285 [66.52] [JW]

Sowash has a happy knack of bringing energy and life to his music-making, of infusing it with delight and seemingly bringing to it his own enthusiasms and generosity. Ö see Full Review

20th century Harpsichord Music Volume 1 Bohuslav MARTINŮ (1890-1959) Deux pieces pour clavecin (1935) Sonate pour clavecin (1958) Deux impromptus pour clavencin (1959) Virgil THOMSON (1896-1989) Four Portraits; Madame Kristians Tonny; eccentric dance Jamie Campbell; stretching Hommage to Mayra Freund and the Harp Max Kahn; Fanfare for France Vincent PERSICHETTI (1915-1987) Harpsichord Sonata No. 7 Op. 156 (1983-84) William ALBRIGHT (b 1944) Four Fancies for Harpsichord (1979) Samuel ADLER (b 1928) Sonata for Harpsichord (1982) Rick SOWASH (b 1950) The Unicorn (1976) Theme with Six Variations (1986) Alec TEMPLETON (1909-1963) Bach Goes To Town (1958) Barbara Harbach (harpsichord) Recorded at the Colgate Rochester Divinity School (1985 and 1989) GASPARO GSCD-251 [72.36] [JW]

Barbara Harbach is a superb guide to the repertoire, plaintive or driving, glinting or wit-fuelled. I hope this CD doesnít get passed over. Itís addictive. Ö see Full Review



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