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Pas de Trois
Bernard van BEURDEN (b.1933)
Pas de trois [10:18]
Jindrich FELD (b.1925)
Trio Giocoso [12:00]
David FROOM (b.1951)
Arirang Variations (2004) [10:57]
Perry GOLDSTEIN (b.1952)
Noir (1999) [14:11]
Don FREUND (b.1947)
Louder than Words [17:24]
Kenneth Tse (saxophones)
Benjamin Coelho (bassoon)
Alan Huckleberry (piano)
rec. University of Iowa, Clapp Recital Hall, May 2005

Trois, of course, rather than deux because this is a versatile trio playing enjoyable material. All are living composers – Feld is the most senior of the quintet – and the Crystal team has taken the opportunity to vary instrumentation in the interests of bringing the trios to wider prominence.
That’s the case with the van Beurden work that lends its name to the title of the disc. It was originally written for soprano and tenor saxophones and piano. Here Benjamin Coelho’s bassoon is inducted to replace the tenor. This is a brisk three-movement work, light on its toes and written in frankly agreeable style. The Overture is balletic and the Pastorale is melodic with a deliciously curvaceous lyric at its heart; then, to end, there’s a loquacious Tarantella.
Jindrich Feld contributes a tougher nut, his Trio Giocoso. Again it’s heard here in different instrumentation, since it was originally written for clarinet, bassoon and piano. As ever Feld proves masterly in control of his forces and injects just the right note of unease to bring tension to bear. Which is not to underplay the capricious Andante or the fluent Allegro opener. The finale has vital energy, from its chattering exchanges and the rollingly brilliant piano part. The introspective moments are swept aside in the general melee.
David Froom unfolds a Korean melody for the departed. Naturally it’s elegiac in mood and also in texture but it’s finely paced and ends with quiet reflection. His slightly younger contemporary Perry Goldstein originally intended Noir for alto saxophone, viola and piano so here wit the bassoon replacement we do have a different proposition in terms of balance and sonority. Nevertheless the players pitch into the angular and occasionally bad tempered writing – which Goldstein is careful to set against jazzier gestures. Finally there is Louder than Words by Don Freund. This is the biggest canvas in the disc – seventeen and a half minutes, cast in two movements – and does exist in other instrumental versions. Freund is not afraid to be brusque or to suggest a passage from Mozart’s Piano Concerto K466 either. The effect of this and other gestures can be rather offputting. Part II sounds like it could do with pruning; the conjunctions and differences between passages pile up – with neo-baroque gestures also making their mark. Intriguing but confusing.
Tse, Coelho and Huckleberry play with great conviction and concentration. Where they transpose they do so with care and sound authoritative. As usual Crystal’s engineering is excellent; notes as well.
Jonathan Woolf



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