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Claus OGERMANN (b.
Sarabande-Fantasie (1990) [14:32]
Duo Lirico (1986) [27:53]
Preludio and Chant (1979) [18:35]
Nightwings (1975) [4:18]
Yue Deng (violin)
Jean-Yves Thibaudet (piano)
rec. Capitol Studios, Los Angeles, 18-19 February 2006
DECCA 4758400 [65:29]
I first came into
contact with the work of Claus Ogermann when he produced and
accompanied Barbra Streisand on her 1970s vintage Classical
Barbra album - still worth a listen I might add (very much
agreed - Ed.).
Born in Ratibor
in what is now part of Poland, Ogermannís influences as a composer
include Scriabin and Reger, and jazz plays an important part
in his thinking as well. No less a giant than Bill Evans has
recorded his music. He seems to be one of those composers that
although recognized, has not gained nor seemingly sought the
This disc of works
for violin and piano was a pleasant surprise, and a welcome
re-acquaintance with a composer that I respected as a child,
if even through a single recording.
Originally a work
for violin and orchestra, the Sarabande-Fantasie adheres
somewhat to the dance-form popular in Handelís day, but also
allows the soloist to rhapsodise as the composer tells
it, through passages of the score. The predominant mood of
the music is that of a distant melancholy, somewhat akin to
the ethos of Coplandís Quiet City. Not necessarily dissonant,
the work is more atmospheric than tuneful. One walks away with
less memory of the melody and more of an impression of the
mood it sets.
The Duo Lirico takes
a similar tack. Romantic in its rather sweeping melodic gestures,
this is music that evokes the images of long walks home, rainy
nights and inward, reflective thinking. Although rife with
deep feelings, one could not readily say that it is passionate.
It is instead Brahmsian in its introspection. There is no question
about its jazz influence, and one cannot escape the image of
the bar about to close and the solitary last patron sitting
alone in the dark in dread of what waits at home.
and Chant begins with much more energy than the preceding
works moving along with a driving sixteenth note underpinning
from the piano. But it isnít long before we are back at the
late night bar with another long and spun out melody, lovely
in its darkness but beginning to sound an awful lot like
the earlier works.
The program concludes
with Nightwings a worked soaked in jazz improvisation
and originally composed as an encore piece ŗ la Fritz Kreisler,
albeit much less light-hearted than the bonbons of the late
Viennese master. This piece, in spite of its similarity to
the larger works on the program, actually comes off better
because of its brevity and its close stylistic relationship
to the jazz standards of the early part of the twentieth century.
Ms. Deng is a friend
to this music, blending a lovely and warm tone with Ella Fitzgeraldís
sensitivity to the subtleties of moods and melodies. She has
ample virtuoso technique, but you are never hammered with it.
She brings off the music with disarming ease, never lacking
mature artist Jean-Yves Thibaudet is completely in his element.
He is a real partner to Ms. Deng, never overshadowing the solo
lines, but at the same time adding his own abundantly colorful
tone and deep understanding of nuance and shading to the mixture.
One wonders how often Mr. Thibaudet can be found after-hours
in some small jazz club mixing it up with the cats in the band.
This is not necessarily
a disc to take in a single sitting. Each of these four works
has merit individually, but the sameness of mood and style
can get a bit oppressive taken as a whole recital. If you sample
them one at a time with a chance to breathe between them, however,
you will find music of great merit.
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