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George PERLE (b. 1915)
A Retrospective

CD 1
Nine Bagatelles (1999) [7:51]*
Horacio Gutiérrez (piano)
Three Inventions for Solo Bassoon (1962) [5:14]
Steven Dibner (bassoon)
Adagietto con affetto from Chansons Cachées (1997) [1:58]
Shirley Perle (piano)
Two French Christmas Carols (arr. 1958) [4:27]
The New York Virtuoso Singers/Harold Rosenbaum
Triptych for Solo Violin and Piano (2002) [9:28]
Curtis Macomber (violin); Christopher Oldfather (piano)
Brief Encounters (String Quartet No. 9) (1998) [27:14]
DePaul String Quartet
Concerto No. 2 for Piano and Orchestra (1992) [19:27]
Michael Boriskin (piano)
Utah Symphony/Joseph Silverstein
CD 2
Serenade No. 3 for Piano and Chamber Orchestra (1983) [19:49]
Richard Goode (piano)
Music Today Ensemble/Gerard Schwarz
Solo Partita for Violin and Viola (1965) [12:53]
Curtis Macomber (violin and viola)
Six Celebratory Inventions (1981-95) [8:40]
Molly Morkoski (piano)
Bassoonmusic (2004) [5:47]
Steven Dibner (bassoon)
Quintet for Strings (1957-58) [28:55]
Chicago String Quartet; Baird Dodge (viola)
rec. 2005, American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters; Piano Concerto No. 2: 7 February 1993, Maurice Abravanel Hall, Salt Lake City, Utah; Serenade No. 3, 15 November 1983, Rutgers Church, NYC. USA. DDD
BRIDGE 9214A/B [76:58 + 76:45]

George Perle sites

George Perle was born in Bayonne, New Jersey. Between 1935 and 1938 he studied at DePaul University. He taught at the Juilliard for many years. The Berg Lyric Suite had a revelatory effect on him. While his music employs dissonance it manages to be neither obscure nor difficult. He aims to be accessible to his audience. The evidence of this album bears out his intention.

Bridge's body of contemporary music recordings is one of the treasures of the catalogue. Their recordings always evince exalted musical values and resiliently challenging connections within the world of composers and performers. Bridge’s unflinchingly ‘modern’ twentieth century series includes Crumb (10 CDs), Machover (3CDs), Wernick, Wuorinen, Carter, Ruders (4 CDs), Wolpe (4 CDs), Jaaffe (2 CDs), Lansky, Riegger, Feldman, Harbison, Imbrie, Schuller, Davidovsky, Musgrave and Ferneyhough. They have made a difference. Long may the label flourish.

Good to hear from Horacio Gutiérrez again. He made quite an impact with the standard repertoire in the 1970s and then sank from sight. Here he tackles the Bagatelles: gently dissonant angular fragments scampering and slowly stalking but often speaking of irritation or impatience among the many quicker pieces and but more dreamy and expressionist in the case of 3 and 8. Jumping back in time from 1999 to 1962 the Three Inventions for solo bassoon are gawky, busy and, oddly enough, quite romantic – nothing difficult here. Shirley Perle plays the Adagietto for solo piano is Perle in dreamy Pierrot mode and uses the HESS notes of the dedicatees Margaret and Philip Hess. The Two French Christmas Carols are sung in English – from translations done by the composer. These are without dissonant distractions and one can imagine them being a strong draw for The King’s Singers or The Swingle Singers. The Triptych for violin and piano is another matter altogether. It’s from 2002. It was written for Curtis Macomber who plays here. The three pieces are serious, fantastic and dissonant yet never losing a sense of continuous line and horizontal progress. Brief Encounters is a full-scale string quartet - Perle’s ninth – comprising fourteen segments arranged in three groups. It is a work of opulent dissonance, transparent instrumentation and just as serious Triptych. The virtuosic and impassioned DePaul Quartet is led by Ilya Kaler who has recorded for Naxos. The quartet was written for DePaul University Vincentian Community in DePaul’s Centennial year. The Piano Concerto No. 2 is in three movements and this version of the recording was first released on Harmonia Mundi HMU 907124. It is a work of angular dissonant fantasy often pursued at speed. This carries over into the Serenade No. 3 except that its spirit is more blithe – just as angular and dissonant but somehow lighter of heart, more jazzy, more redolent of Stravinsky. The Elegy movement (III) was written in memory of Balanchine. The Solo Partita from 1965 has Macomber changing his solo instrument from one movement to the next: viola – violin – viola – violin – violin. Perle pays tribute to baroque antecedents but filtered through the gauze of dissonance. This is one of a number of works written for unaccompanied instruments between 1942 and 1965. The Celebratory Inventions picture friends within – Krenek at 85, Dutilleux at 80, Knussen at 40, Schuller at 70, Richard Swift at 60, Bernstein at 70. They’re all short and concentrated and are related to the character of the Bagatelles. The Bernstein piece has subject’s jazzy sway. BassoonMusic has Perle returning to his cantabile serenading style of the early 1960s. The String Quintet is the earliest work here. Written in a noticeably ‘modern’ style - for the times - with Bergian dissonance it is a passionate, serious and searingly impressive piece, gritty with tragedy. The Quintet was written in memory of Perle’s first wife, Laura Slobe who died of cancer in 1952.

Accessible and communicative dissonant music. A generous conspectus of Perle’s work supported by sound and well designed liner notes.

Rob Barnett


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