Michael KIMBER (b.1945)
Music for Viola 7
Suite in baroque style for two violas (1997) [11:00]
Twentieth-Century Idioms for Viola: Secundal [2:22]: Harmonics [2:59]: Various Techniques [2:34]: Aleatoric [5:17]
Winter Awakening (2015) [6:39]
Duo sonata in classical style for two violas (1998) [18:28]
Monolog i Krakowiak (2000) [7:33]
Four Canons for two violas (2006-08) [5:13]
Marcin Murawski (viola): Michalina Matias (viola): Kamil Babka (viola): Michael Kimber (viola)
rec. March 2017, Polish-Norwegian Cultural Centre, Poznan and live, April 2014, USM International Viola Festival (Aleatoric)
ACTE PRÉALABLE AP0393 [62:12]
Acte Préalable has a burgeoning stable of discs devoted
to the American violist and composer Michael Kimber and all of them
consist of works for his own instrument. We’re now up to volume
seven in a seemingly inexhaustible corpus of music but it’s one
that offers a binary look at the composer, illustrating Kimber in both
his pedagogic and compositionally advanced selves. It also features
a performance by the executant-composer himself.
Both the Suite in Baroque style and the Duo sonata in Classical
style are cast for two violins. They’re also aids to teaching.
The former offers work-in-practice for the student who is not yet equipped
to tackle a solo ‘suite’. By suite I assume Kimber means
one of the solo sonatas or partitas or even the keyboard-accompanied
sonatas. Thus, he writes an instructive piece with a full complement
of the expected dance movements in Bachian style; the second part can
be taken by a teacher or partner. Similarly, the Classical sonata takes
Haydn as its model, constructing a typical four-movement format in rather
pastiche style both amiable and engaging. Once again familiarity with
the style is the intent.
Interspersed throughout the disc is a sequence of short etudes extracted
from Kimber’s 20th Century Idioms for
Viola. Secundal, Harmonics, Various Techniques and Aleatoric
have the advantage of linguistic directness – no flimflam when
it comes to descriptive titling from Kimber, I’m glad to say.
These etudes explore major and minor, dissonance, ‘random assortments
of special effects’ and fragmentary passages offering improvisation
to the exponent, or the insertion of quotation randomly or not at all.
The Four Canons offer a taut five minutes couched largely in
twelve-tone and a single movement that one can tell, from its nomenclature
– Sehr langsam - and from its rhetoric is inspired by
one of the great violist-composers, Hindemith. It’s rather reminiscent,
in fact, of Trauermusik. The Monolog i Krakowiak is
played by the composer himself at the 2014 USM International Viola Festival.
Originally conceived for saxophone but with the expectation of being
performed on the viola it’s an attractive, athletic piece and
through there are occasionally flecked folkloric phrases in the second
section it won’t be immediately apparent that this is a Krakowiak;
though, to be fair, the composer admits as much himself in the notes.
Marcin Murawski takes the main burden of responsibilities very capably,
though Michalina Matias, who joins him for the Suite, is not far behind.
Kamil Babka joins Murawski for the Duo Sonata. As previously noted the
composer plays one item.
Given the specialist nature of this undertaking the most stylistically
interesting pieces are the advanced ones, the Etudes. They are certainly
worth hearing though, because of the teaching element of the programming,
this seventh volume is not for more general listening.