Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Ned Rorem, The Fibonacci Sequence|
Rorem: Chamber Muisc - The End of Summer, Book of Hours, Bright Music
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Ned Rorem's Chamber Music
Robin Friedman | Washington, D.C. United States | 04/08/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Many people know too little about the cultural achievements of Americans. This is particularly the case in the area of art ("classical")music, perhaps because American popular music in its many varieties has captured the imagination of much of the world. The Naxos Company, which specializes in inexpensive, innovative recordings of classical music has been producing a series titled "American Classics" with the aim of making American music available to the public at a low price. This is an altogether commendable aim. It is valuable both because it encourages the exploration of classical music and also because it encourages an appreciation of American creativity.This disc of chamber music by Ned Rorem (b. 1923) is an outstanding addition to the series. Rorem is both a composer and a writer, best known for his art songs. (A collection of Rorem's songs is available on another Naxos disc in this series.) The performers are a group of seven young British musicians who call themselves the "Fibonacci sequence".There are three pieces on the CD dating from 1975 through 1987. The first piece, "The End of Summer" consists of three movements and was written in 1985. It is scored for clarinet, violin, and piano. The most striking aspects of this music are the long declamatory passage for solo violin which opens the piece, and the lyrical secondary themes that appear in the first and third movement. The music does indeed have a yearning, autumnal quality.The second piece on the disc, the "Book of Hours" was written in 1975 and is scored for flute and harp. It consists of 8 short movements. This music reminded me of Rorem's songs. In general, I found the flute taking the lead (as the vocalist in one or Rorem's songs) and presenting a declamatory line in the music with the harp punctuating and commenting on the flute through chords, runs around the theme, and otherwise. (As the piano seems to me to do in many of Rorem's songs.)The third piece, "Bright Music" (1987) consists of five movements and is scored for flute, two violins, cello, and piano. The two outer movements are modernist in tone, yet both of them are based upon the final, mad movement of Chopin's "Funeral March" piano sonata. (The final movement is titled "Chopin") The third and fourth movement contain beautiful dream and dance sequences.Rorem's music is in a distinctly modern idiom which yet will be accessible to the listener. The program notes to this CD are unusually thorough and will help the listener approach this music. This is an excellent recording. Naxos is to be commended for its efforts in bringing to the public American attainments in classical music."
Fascinating chamber music from Ned Rorem
J Scott Morrison | Middlebury VT, USA | 03/20/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Ned Rorem (b. 1923) is one of our most distinguished composers, perhaps best known for his songs; certainly he is one of the finest composers we have when it comes to word-setting. But this disc is given over to chamber works, and a fine disc it is; it features the British chamber group Fibonacci Series, which consists of seven instrumentalists (led by violinist Jonathan Carney, brother of the American String Quartet's second violinist, Laurie Carney). "End of Summer" (for clarinet, violin and piano (1985), in three movements: Capriccio, Fantasy, Mazurka) starts with a declamatory cadenza for unaccompanied violin that seems to be notifying us that an important announcement is about to be made. But shortly after the clarinet and piano enter we are taken to a world of pastiche (and of memory) that includes old hymns, children's songs, snippets of faux-Satie. In the 'Fantasy' we enter an autumnal mood, with some late Brahmsian use of the clarinet, in which there seems to be rueful recollection of times past. 'Mazurka' is a lively old-fashioned folk-dance, alternately contrasted with an elegant waltz. Toward the end two dances jostle for primacy and finally disappear into thin air. "End of Summer" is a delightful suite that deserves some real popularity."Book of Hours" (flute and harp, 1975) is a collection of eight pieces reflecting each of the canonical hours designated for daily prayer. 'Matins' opens quietly and at mid-way reverses itself (a palindrome) to end as it began; it is echoed in the final 'Compline.' 'Lauds' is a vigorous eye-opener (Lauds comes at sunrise). 'Prime' (6am) is a dreamlike meditation of harp glissandi with flute wheeling above. 'Terce' (Mid-Morning) is for mostly unaccompanied flute that begins meditatively but then soars into the stratosphere, ending with coruscating glints of sunlight. 'Sext' (Noon) has note-bending swoons on the flute with reassuring chords from the harp - a crisis of faith with support coming from an older member of the monastic community? 'Nones' (Mid-afternoon) has spashes of discordant flute and harp chords alternating with calming common chords and simple melodies. 'Vesper' (Evening) is a reversal of the process in 'Lauds.' And finally 'Compline' ends as 'Matins' began. This is a superbly atmospheric suite superbly realized by flutist Anna Noakes and harpist Gillian Tingay."Bright Music" (for flute, two violins, cello and piano, 1987) has five movements whose titles are descriptive of the music they contain: Fandango, Pierrot, Dance-Song-Dance, Another Dream, and Chopin. Rorem has said 'Fandango' was inspired by the image of 'rat inside a can'! Certainly it runs and scrabbles in fandango rhythm. 'Pierrot' is a melancholy clown reportedly inspired by images from Picasso's early 'blue period.' 'Dance-Song-Dance,' is just what it says - a frenetic dance (with whirling piano, plucked strings and screaming flute) - followed by a simple, pensive song which the dance interrupts for a frantic finish. 'Another Dream', the longest section at eight minutes, opens with an yearning cello solo eventually joined by distant chiming on the piano. One by one the other instruments enter, all singing trancelike songs. There is a modest climax before the music again recedes into its initial dream. The brief finale, 'Chopin,' is a virtuosic gloss on the 'wind in the graveyard' finale of Chopin's B-flat minor piano
sonata. This is a terrific issue with potent and engaging music played superbly. The sound is clear, truthful and rich."