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Ursula MAMLOK (b. 1923)
Concertino for woodwind quintet, string orchestra and percussion (1984-87) [13:37] (1)
2000 Notes (2000) [7:23] (2)
String Quartet No. 1 (1962/63) [9:59] (3)
Haiku Settings (1967) [6:14] (4)
Concerto for Oboe and Chamber Orchestra (1976) [13:38] (5)
Designs (1962) [5:48] (6)
Woodwind Quintet (1956) [14:52] (7)
Odense Symphony Orchestra/Scott Yoo (1)
Garrick Ohlsson (piano) (2)
Daedalus String Quartet (3)
Tony Arnold (soprano); Claire Chase (flute) (4)
Heinz Holliger (oboe); Ensemble SurPlus/James Avery (5)
David Bowlin (violin); Jacob Greenberg (piano) (6)
Windscape (7)
rec. 2007-2008, Odense (Concertino), New York. DDD
BRIDGE 9291 [72:03]
Experience Classicsonline

Bridge are a wonder. They launch series after series and more unusual they doggedly extend those series beyond volume 1. Their productivity is a phenomenon which has blessed the music of Imbrie, Crumb, Babbitt, Wolpe and Carter amongst many others. Good and very full background notes are typical and there is no departure from the norm here. Fortunate the composer selected by Bridge for series treatment. For Mamlok this is volume 1 - the start of a journey.

Mamlok was born in Berlin, fled to Ecuador in 1939 and fetched up in the USA in 1940. There she studied with Szell at Mannes. Later she had Vittorio Giannini as a teacher as well his polar opposites, Wolpe, Shapey and Sessions. Giannini’s style left no imprint whatsoever on her music - at least not in relation to her idiom.

The 1987 Concertino is concise and full of light and air. The music is determinedly 12-tone; Webern-like in its spareness. A sprite dances beguilingly through the finale but this remains music of mirrors, suggestion, of fragments and impressions on the wing. Garrick Ohlsson has recorded for Bridge before. His recording of 2000 Notes reveals concentration and a sense of theatre. This work is a dissonant fantasy in four little movements which do not turn their back on rhythmic elan (II) or, for that matter, on quietude (III). It is Mamlok’s largest work for piano. The String Quartet No 1 is from 1962. Its music is immersed in dissonance and a constant sense of fantastic reversal, forward impetus, change and attack. It is played to the hilt by the Daedalus who, in doing so, also express effectively the work's many whispered episodes. The five Haiku Settings are for flute and soprano. They are typical of the genre: brief, atonal, episodic and dramatic. The sprite I mentioned in relation to the Concertino reappears in the fourth Haiku (A Tree frog). The Oboe Concerto is a work of histrionics, distressed dissonance and reflection. It is here most beautifully and effortlessly performed by Heinz Holliger and is recorded with startling clarity. The chilly atonality of the two-part Designs for violin and piano is in keeping with the contemporaneous String Quartet. The 1956 Wind Quintet is in three movements and is the earliest Mamlok featured here. It is flighty but dissonant in hardly any detail. It would pair rather well with Barber's Summer Music. This was a style she was to disown very soon under the tutelage of Wolpe and Shapey.

The music heard here is highly skilful and reflects an embrace with dissonance and with clarity of thought.

Rob Barnett
 
 


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