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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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
Mirecourt Trio (Kenneth Goldsmith, violin;
Terry King, cello; John Jensen, piano)
Craig Olzenak (clarinet) Recorded (?
GASPARO GSCD 285 [66.52] [JW]
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.
century Harpsichord Music Volume 1
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)
(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]
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