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Robert RAINES
Echoes of Sarah (2007) [11:28]
Ménage (2005) [9:43]
The Return of Odysseus (complete ballet) (2007) [30:00]
The Florida State University Flute Ensemble/Matt Thomas, Eva Amsler (director); Deanna Bertsche (flute); Erin Douglass (bass clarinet); Jose Bevia (piano); Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra/Vit Micka, Ladislav Kubik (musical consultant)
rec. live, 27 October 2007, Dohnanyi Recital Hall, Florida State University [1]; June 2006, Tallahassee Florida [2-4]; 4-5 April 2008, Czech Republic
MSR CLASSICS MS1299 [51:31]
Experience Classicsonline

Echoes of Sarah is a poignant and moving fantasy for nine flutes, written in memory of Sarah Jewler, the former managing editor of Rolling Stone Magazine in New York and a friend and colleague of the composer.  Entitled A Fantasy in One Movement for Nine Flutes this takes us through a range of emotions and uses the colours of the different members of the flute family to good effect. With a duration of nearly 12 minutes, there is the potential for the flute ensemble sound to become stale, but this does not happen here. The work constantly evolves and eventually breaks down into haunting vocal sounds before the end of the piece. The playing here is good, especially for a live performance by University students.
 
Ménage is a trio for flute, bass clarinet and piano which immediately hints at Raines’ diverse background as a composer and musician. He has worked as composer, guitarist and record producer in New York City, and currently resides in Tallahassee, Florida. The opening movement is fast-paced and lively, and is over in almost a flash. The central movement is slower and builds in strength, exploring the sonorities of these instruments in combination. The final movement is a feast of rhythm and drive and brings the work to a dramatic close. The playing here, by Deanna Bertsche (flute), Erin Douglas (bass clarinet) and Jose Belvia (piano) is excellent.
 
The remaining piece is the large-scale ballet The Return of Odysseus, composed in 2007. In three acts, this musical setting of Homer has drama running all the way through it. The orchestration is rich and imaginative, and the rhythmic writing has resonances of Stravinsky without ever becoming predictable or generic. There are also moments which could easily come from a film score (such as track 9, The Kingdom of the Dead). The music is creative, expressive and extremely enjoyable. Raines’ plentiful influences create a rich tapestry of sound which never stays still and has the sense of a modern day spectacle; one can imagine a contemporary act such as Cirque de Soleil working to this music. This is a captivating and well-executed - apart from a few minor intonation issues - performance by the Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra. It serves as the perfect introduction to Raines’ work.
 
Raines is clearly a composer with a considerable talent and imagination. His music would sit well within a programme of contemporary works or as film music or anywhere in between, such is the breadth of his appeal. There is a life-force behind his music which involves the listener and keeps the material fresh; it is rare that I can listen to a 30 minute piece of music without my mind drifting at some point, but Raines held my attention and made me want to listen again. That, surely, is a good sign.
 
Carla Rees
 

 


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