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Notable Women Lera AUERBACH (b.1973) Trio, for violin, cello and piano (1992/1996) [11:35]
Stacy GARROP (b.1969) Seven, for piano trio (1997-98) [11:44]
Jennifer HIGDON (b.1962) Piano Trio (2003) [14:03]
Laura Elise SCHWENDINGER (b.1962) C'è la Luna questa Sera? (1998/2006) [5:25]
Augusta Read THOMAS (b.1964) Moon Jig (2005) [4:40]
Joan TOWER (b.1938) Trio Cavany (2007) [19:14]
Lincoln Trio (Desirée Ruhstrat (violin); David Cunliffe (cello); Marta Aznavoorian (piano))
rec. Bennett-Gordon Hall, Ravinia, Highland Park, Illinois, 1-5 November 2010 and 15 April 2011. DDD
CEDILLE RECORDS CDR 90000 126 [67:20]
The only bad thing about this CD is the title: "Notable
Women" is the kind of thing that may well sound 'affirmative'
in the US - none of the several American reviews already published
at the time of writing even mention it - but in Europe and elsewhere
is more likely to come over as a trifle patronising. On the
evidence of the works featured here, these are all notable composers
- gender does not come into it. Any of the four longer works
on this CD is worth the asking price of the disc on its own.
The Lincoln Trio's programme opens with Russian-born Lera Auerbach's
inventive Trio, its rather eerie Preludium Misterioso, complete
with convincing gull noises from the cello, proceeded by a beautiful,
yearning Andante. The work is brought to a thrilling conclusion
by an agitated, virtuosic Presto, seamlessly written four years
on from the first movements, which flies headlong to a frantic,
emotionally intense conclusion. An outstanding start to the
Earlier this year Chicago-based Cedille released the first CD
dedicated entirely to the works of Stacy Garrop, Associate Professor
of Composition at the Roosevelt University in Chicago. It was
warmly received - see this
review, for example. That disc featured Garrop's Silver
Dagger, a Trio for violin, cello and piano, written for and
played by the Lincoln Trio. Fast forward, and Seven is a tribute
to Garrop's late father, partly inspired, of all things, by
a cyborg character from the TV series Star Trek! It is an enthralling,
extraordinary work in seven short sections, a farrago of special
effects demanding singular technique and imagination from both
strings and pianist - easily supplied by the Lincolns - yet
still fundamentally audience-friendly.
Audience-friendliness is a term frequently applicable to the
music of Jennifer Higdon, whose Violin Concerto won the Pulitzer
Prize only last year, and whose music is, thankfully, appearing
more and more regularly on CD. Her recent Piano Trio, dedicated
to Joan Tower, has two movements, 'Pale Yellow' and 'Fiery Red',
in which she explores relationships between sounds, colours
and moods. 'Pale Yellow' is pure autumn mellowness - rich rather
than pastel yellow - whereas 'Fiery Red' is a ferocious firestorm
of blazing brilliance. A better first half to a CD is hard to
The second half is a little more modernist in idiom - anyone
coming to this disc with any notion that music written by women
is inherently more 'feminine' than music by men is in for a
shock. Curiously, the fourth and fifth items are two short moon-themed
pieces: Laura Elise Schwendinger's impassioned C'è la Luna Questa
Sera? ('Is the Moon out This Evening?'), apparently inspired
by the dancing of moonlight on Lake Como in Italy, and Augusta
Read Thomas's restless, atonal Moon Jig. There is nothing especially
lunar about either work, it has to be said, certainly nothing
in the music to becalm the senses like a moonlit landscape.
Both pieces are less likely to appeal to general audiences,
but at the very least they add extra spice and colour to the
Lincoln Trio's almost unbeatable programme.
Finally to Joan Tower, who is from a different generation -
the only one here without her own website! She is without question
one of America's most significant living composers, and her
electrifying Trio Cavany - which she composed just short of
her seventieth birthday - demonstrates why. The title is made
up of the abbreviations for the three states whose music festivals
co-commissioned the work, and this tripartite theme is enlarged
upon through the recurrence of prominent solos for each of the
instrumentalists, with any two or all three frequently coming
together to poetic end.
The marvellous Lincoln Trio performed this very programme at
the Ravinia Festival in 2010, in the same order in fact, so
it is hardly surprising that they sound both very comfortable
and in total command of all this often highly exigent music.
Only the works by Higdon and Thomas have been previously recorded.
The disc is nicely recorded in generally well-balanced, realistic
sound, and the CD booklet is once again just how CD booklets
should always be, thoughtfully and clearly laid out - Naxos
in particular could learn something from the size of the font!
- with as much information as the average listener needs, just
a couple of photos of the Lincoln Trio for good measure, and
everything printed on high quality paper.
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