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Charles Wuorinen Series - Sonata For Guitar, Divertimento, Etc / Anderson, Gattegno, Carlson, Et Al

Release Date: 01/13/2009 
Label:  Albany Records   Catalog #: 1077   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Charles Wuorinen
Performer:  Joan ForsythWilliam AndersonWilbur PauleyChristopher Hall,   ... 
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 13 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

WUORINEN Guitar Sonata. 1 Never Again the Same. 2 11 Short Pieces. 3 Divertimento. 4 Percussion Duo. 5 Psalm 39. 6 Duo Sonata 7 William Anderson (gtr); 1,6 Joan Read more Forsyth (pn); 1 Wilbur Pauley (bs); 2 Christopher Hall (tb); 2 Erik Carlson (vn); 3 Michael Caterisano (vib); 3 Eliot Gattegno (a sax); 4 Eric Wubbels (pn); 4 John Ferrari (mmb, vib); 5 Margaret Kampmeier (pn); 5 Thomas Meglioranza (bar); 6 Robert Aitken (fl); 7 James Avery (pn) 7 ALBANY TROY 1077 (73:06)

Back in Fanfare 31:2 I reviewed, positively, a Naxos disc of recordings of Wuorinen (originally on the Koch label). This varied disc of duos (which includes, in the Percussion Duo , a re-release of a CRI recording) is no less recommendable. Performances are uniformly excellent.

The Sonata for Guitar and Piano (1995) marries two instruments in the same sound space that are often thought of as mutually incompatible, and yet the result is hypnotic. Occasionally the guitar sounds as if it is actually the plucked strings of the piano itself, but mainly it seems to act as an aural reminder of the fact that both instruments produce sound by manipulating a string, either with hammers or with a plectrum. The way the two instruments strike sparks off each other accounts for a large part of this work’s fascination. Important also is the fact that Wuorinen’s rigorous technique is clearly a means to a very expressive end. Both players here are virtuosos in their own right, and together produce chamber music proper—the close observance of each other’s actions results in a very tight performance. The recording is crystal clear and close enough to become really involving.

The beginning of the next piece hits the listener in the stomach. Wuorinen has set James Tate’s poem, “Never Again the Same,” for bass voice and tuba, and it is the tuba that starts the piece off in no uncertain terms with an accent followed by a trill. Tate’s poem speaks of sunsets, but not any old sunsets­—these are terrifying ones, ones that take your breath away. Christopher Hall is an amazing tuba-player, agile in the extreme and yet lyrical at the same time. Wilbur Pauley delivers the text (mainly sung, sometimes spoken) with authority. The Eleven Short Pieces of 2006 sure are short, for their combined duration is 2:24­—Webernian in duration and in terseness of utterance. Bruce Quaglia, in his booklet notes, refers to the violin as Wuorinen’s “primary expressive voice,” and one can easily hear the truth of his statement here.

The Divertimento of 1982 for alto saxophone and piano is on a grander time scale, but economy of means is found here, too, for there is not a note wasted. Eliot Gattegno is a hugely sensitive musician—it is his work at the lower end of the dynamic range that is most memorable. Pianist Eric Wubbels mirrors Gattegno’s sensitivity. This is a memorable account of a noteworthy and rewarding piece. The Percussion Duo , too, is an important piece in Wuorinen’s output and is given a hugely successful performance. Here, the sheer beauty of sound marries itself to the rigor of Wourinen’s compositional technique to reveal an incredibly rewarding listening experience. John Ferrari is a stunning performer.

William Anderson reappears in an accompanying role for Psalm 39 (1979). The debt of the vocal writing to liturgical music is obvious to begin with, but as the vocal part becomes more melismatic and the guitar-writing becomes more frenzied, we enter more fully into Wuorinen’s own expressive vocabulary. Yet no matter how disjunct the lines become, Wuorinen always has lyricism as the basis of his language.

The last work on the disc is the Duo Sonata of 2004. Wuorinen was here returning to writing for the flute as a solo instrument after something of a gap. His gift to flutists everywhere is this work, which, if there is any justice in the world, will attain a permanent place in the flute repertoire. Robert Aitken is a very expressive player, and his advocacy of this 16-minute work is never in doubt. This is one of three premiere recordings here; the others are Never Again the Same and Eleven Short Pieces.

Another important addition to the Wuorinen discography. Don’t hesitate.

FANFARE: Colin Clarke
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Works on This Recording

Sonata for Guitar and Piano by Charles Wuorinen
Performer:  Joan Forsyth (Piano), William Anderson (Guitar)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1995; USA 
Never Again the Same by Charles Wuorinen
Performer:  Wilbur Pauley (Bass), Christopher Hall (Tuba)
Period: 20th Century 
Short Pieces (11) for Violin and Vibraphone by Charles Wuorinen
Performer:  Michael Caterisano (Vibraphone), Eric Carlson (Violin)
Period: 20th Century 
Divertimento for Alto Saxophone and Piano by Charles Wuorinen
Performer:  Eric Wubbels (Piano), Elio Gattegno (Alto Saxophone)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1982; USA 
Percussion Duo by Charles Wuorinen
Performer:  John Ferrari (Marimba), Margaret Kampmeier (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1979; USA 
Psalm 39 by Charles Wuorinen
Performer:  William Anderson (Guitar), Thomas Meglioranza (Baritone)
Period: 20th Century 
Duo Sonata for Flute and Piano by Charles Wuorinen
Performer:  Robert Aitken (Flute), James Avery (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 

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