Search - Henri Lazarof, Stephen Mosko, CHRISTOPHER KENDALL :: Lazarof: Four Works for Chamber Ensembles - Divertimento; Concertante II; Suite; Prayers

Lazarof: Four Works for Chamber Ensembles - Divertimento; Concertante II; Suite; Prayers
Henri Lazarof, Stephen Mosko, CHRISTOPHER KENDALL
Lazarof: Four Works for Chamber Ensembles - Divertimento; Concertante II; Suite; Prayers
Genre: Classical
  •  Track Listings (15) - Disc #1


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Well-Crafted Pieces; Expert Performances
Christopher Forbes | Brooklyn,, NY | 08/28/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Henri Lazarof is not a household name, even in modernist households. His music is difficult to classify. It doesn't fall easily into any of the camps of the late 20th century, or the early 21st. He is too chromatic to be a neo-romantic, too complicated to be a minimalist, too tonal to be a neo-expressionist, and too expressive to be a serialist. Rather, he could be classed with composers such as Dutilleux...neither tonal nor non-tonal and interested in strong, allusive music with rich, colorful textures.The works on this album are all commissions from various chamber societies, and are performed for the most part by the commissioning body. Divertimento is a well-crafted, rather light work for a quartet including clarinet, vibraphone, violin and cello. The idiom is chromatic but not serial. Lazarof allows his material to determine the style, rather than the other way around as is so common in modernism. The result is a lovely work, not particularly moving, but charming and always harmonically controlled. The same might be said for the Suite for Solo Percussion and Five Instrumentalists. This is not easy is primarily dissonant and non-tonal. Yet for all of that, it is charming music and relatively light. The percussion part is highly prominant and divided between non-pitched percussion in the first movement, metallic percussion in the second and woods in the third. What particularly impresses in the piece is the thoughtful construction and the control of harmony. Lazarof does not allow his harmonic structures to be determined solely by the melodic structures or rows, as in so many post serial pieces. Rather, the harmonic function is taken into consideration immediately and controlled with craft. This is an extremely enjoyable piece. The high point of the album for me is Prayers for Ten Players. The work revolves around a pair of cellists, placed on either side of the conductor. The cellists dominate each of the six movements, except the fifth, where they don't play at all. The complete ensemble never plays together in the work. Each movement has it's own scoring. But this work is more substantial emotionally than the other works on this disc. From the opening notes, it is a deeply felt, reverent piece. Lazarof explains that he is not interested in a specific program in this work, but rather in a general spiritual experience of being close to the numinous. I believe he suceeds brilliantly in this piece. While not simple-minded or the least bit "new agey" this work manages to plumb the light and dark contrasts in the genuine spiritual experience. I keep coming back to this one, over and over again.The final work on the disc is the Concertante II for for Flute, Oboe, Clainet, Percussion, Piano, Violin, Cello and Contrabass. As in all of the other works, this is expertly crafted. All of the instruments play virtuoso lines, but in ensemble style rather than concerto. The work explores some use of microtones, but remains in Lazarof's totally chromatic but non-serial style. A brilliant ending to an important disc.Lazarof will probably never reach a wide public. His music is too challenging for that. And yet, because he is not systematic, or highly stylistic, he will not appeal to the small market for serialist and post-serialist music either. It's too bad. He is a marvelous composer who repays careful listening with real pleasure. This disc is a great introduction to his music. The performances are top-knotch, involving some of the most well-respected contemporary ensemblesin the country (Collage from Boston, The San Francisco Contemporary Music Ensemble and the 20th Century Consort from Washington, DC). Delos has done a wonderful job capturing the ambience of the concert hall in this disc. Do yourself a favor and listen to this composer. He is wonderful."