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
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.