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Sharon Ruchman's website

Sharon RUCHMAN (b.1950s)
Cello and Piano Sonata [11:15]
Remembrance, for violin and piano [7:47]
Flute and Piano Duet, op.3 [5:43]
Lament, for violin and piano [3:34]
Hope, for cello and piano [8:09]
Kaleidoscope, for violin and piano [4:31]
Calm, for piano [4:29]
Longing, for violin and piano [5:33]
Variations on a Theme in F, for cello and piano [8:15]
Mary Costanza (cello)
Janet Boughton (violin)
Sharon Ruchman (piano)
Kim Collins (flute)
rec. Hebbard House, Washington, Connecticut. No dates given. DDD
Private issue [59:11]

Textures - Chamber Music*
Sonata in F sharp minor, for cello and piano, op.8 [11:15]
Duet in D minor, for flute and cello, op.11 [8:33]
Piano Sonata in B flat, op.10 [10:51]
Duet in A flat, for violin and cello, op.9 [11:21]
Meditation, for piano [5:10]
Sonata in D minor, for violin and piano, op.7 [11:41]
Mary Costanza (cello)
Janet Boughton (violin)
Sharon Ruchman (piano)
Kim Collins (flute)
rec. Hebbard House, Washington, Connecticut. No dates given. DDD
Private issue [58:51]

Sharon Ruchman's own website describes her as "an original classical music composer who embraces different styles and instrumentation. She writes pieces that are strikingly expressive, creates soothing music for those quiet evenings, and constructs lyrical movements to surprise and delight her listeners." She did not start composing until 2007 in fact, her musical training as a pianist and singer, at Yale and elsewhere, leading her eventually to the decision to study composition formally. These discs are her third and fourth releases, published privately, and dating from 2011 and 2012. Her first two CDs, also recent, are reviewed here.
All four albums are collections of chamber music, a genre which perfectly suits Ruchman's stated aims to create works of lyrical intimacy: "I want my music to touch the hearts of those that hear it. Therefore, I compose strong melodies that will be memorable to the listener." In that sense, the present two take up where the first pair left off, further incarnations of her capacity for warming melody and gentle, atmospheric harmony.
It might be ventured that Ruchman takes trying to make her music accessible to all too far when she comes to describe it in words. Here is what her site says about the one of the works on 'Textures': "The "Duet for Flute and Cello in D Minor, Opus 11" is a surprise! Well designed for background music for a movie scene, this piece commands two instruments to both play their lead parts at the same time, and yet the two very different voices come together in perfect, playful harmony. One must listen closely to hear the complete tale of these two movements." Certainly, "background music for a movie scene" is harsh criticism of a work from its own composer! Moreover, it could also be argued that she is putting ideas into listeners' heads, instead of letting them feel the music for themselves. For example, the title-piece Remembrance is described as "a longing yet contented two movements in which we hear the violin reach for the limits of a happy ending and find them." Yet this simplified language does at least ensure that those who are entirely new to art music will understand what they are reading and, in all likelihood, be able to relate the words to what they are hearing. In any case, the elegance of Ruchman's musical shapes and the tunefulness of the lines do not insult, in the way pop and minimalism do, even the sophisticate's intelligence. At their best, her works have an emotional depth that alludes to early 20th-century late-Romanticism, and there are several pieces with either a neo-Classical or an impressionistic feel - the notes refer a couple of times indeed to the influence of Debussy.
With one minor exception, none of Ruchman's albums come with any accompanying notes or biographical information - in all cases the 'booklets' are no more than single sheets, cover art on one side, a track listing on the other. Unusually, for those works that span two or three tracks, tempo/character instructions or titles for those movements are not supplied. For further information the reader/listener must visit Ruchman's website. The minor exception is 'Remembrance', which does have a few lines of information for three tracks, revealed when the CD is lifted out of the case.
At any rate, Ruchman's music is inspired in part by the local musicians who have helped her make these recordings. As before, individual performances are poised and affable, with wholesome tones and expressive phrasing. Audio quality is good, albeit very dry and thus tending to sound a little subdued. One minor production quibble is the fact that tracks are tightly cropped, giving sometimes an unnaturally short silence between movements and works. In the opening cello sonata of 'Remembrance' the cropping is actually too tight, a fraction of a second of the start of the second movement having been unfortunately excised. Generally, though, the minor technical gremlins found on Ruchman's first 'Chamber Music' disc have long been exorcised.
All discs can be obtained from Ruchman's site or through the usual main online outlets, with individual works available from iTunes and the like.
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