The opening of Pity Paid is immediately arresting and
instantly commands attention. The work, for solo violin and
chamber orchestra, is aggressive in tone and creates a series
of moments of tension which gradually resolve as the piece progresses.
Contrapuntal orchestral lines bring out individual instruments
in the overall sound and allow the solo violin to emerge clearly
from the texture. Bursts of energy are maintained through to
the last bar, and the piece felt much shorter than its 11 minute
duration. Movses Pogossian provides a convincing solo line throughout.
Kinderszenen is scored for five instrumentalists; flute,
percussion, piano, cello and trumpet. The opening is slow and
spacious, providing a stark contrast with the material of the
previous piece. It soon builds into an energetic tapestry of
sounds. The music takes its form from a Kafka short story, called
Eleven Sons, in which a father describes his sons, one
by one. The episodes contrast each other well, with changes
of texture and mood. The scoring reminds me a little of Schönberg
- Pierrot Lunaire particularly springs to mind - and
the rhythmic elements of the piece keep a good sense of momentum.
Rare moments of unison or octave playing - such as in the dialogue
between flute and trumpet - demand attention, as does the fantastic
effect of flutter-tongued trumpet, which bursts through the
texture with controlled force. The quiet section which follows
has well controlled intonation and offers a moment of repose
to the ear before the energy rebuilds. A jazz interlude later
in the piece seems incongruent with the style of the surrounding
music, and yet works effectively, given the contrasting nature
of the different episodes. Stadelman is clearly a composer with
imagination and skill.
Mr Natural is a work for trumpet and piano, composed
for Jon Nelson and Jacob Greenberg, who perform it here. There
is what now seems to be a characteristic energy in the piece,
which again seems episodic in nature and has a sense of natural
flow. Variety in instrumental timbre is achieved through the
use of mutes. The slow sections provide a welcome sense of space
which allows the more frenetic sections to breathe.
The final work on the disc is Starry Wisdom, a chamber
orchestra piece based on a work by the American writer, H.P.
Lovecraft, and deals with the subject of cult worship. This
recording is of the premiere performance. Again, here, Stadelman’s
contrapuntal lines build a bright orchestral texture, with individual
instrumental colours coming through.
This is an interesting disc which provides a good introduction
to Stadelman’s works. The playing is solid, and the music is