Notes and Editorial Reviews
Echoes of Sarah.
The Return of Odysseus
Matt Thomas, cond;
Vít Micka, cond;
Deanna Bertsche (fl);
Erin Douglass (b cl);
Jose Bevia (pn);
class="ARIAL12"> Florida St Univ Fl Ens;
MSR 1299 (51:29) Live: Tallahassee 10/27/2007
Robert Raines studied composition and electronic music at the Berklee College of Music in Boston before attaining his master’s at Shenandoah Conservatory and his doctorate at Florida State. The major work here is the ballet score,
The Return of Odysseus
(2007), which is presented complete. Raines’s original sketch was over three hours long. Much editing resulted in the present half-hour piece, based on Homer. The work is in three acts, each focusing on a different aspect of the Odysseus story: first, his home, his wife, and her suitors; second, three episodes from Odysseus’s return journey; and third, Odysseus’s homecoming, revenge, and renewal of his love for his wife.
The balletic nature of the music is everywhere apparent, sometimes intriguingly so (the shady nature of the “Dance of the suitors,” for example). The music for “The Cyclops” is graphically ominous in its snaking melodic contours and generally low pitch, while the ethereal “Song of the Sirens,” generally high and seductive, acts as good contrast. If some of the utterances seem filmic and occasionally heart-on-sleeve, that is not necessarily a bad thing in the context of an unfolding narrative such as this. Blues inflects some of the lines of “The Kingdom of the Dead,” which also includes some of the most dissonant music of the entire score. Primal rhythms generate the tension in “The Return of Odysseus.” All credit to the Moravian Philharmonic and their conductor Vít Micka, who have clearly spent much time in preparation for this recording.
The remaining items exhibit similar thoroughness. Scored for nine flutes, the one-movement fantasy,
Echoes of Sarah
(2007), is a valedictory piece for one of the composer’s ex-colleagues who died of a rare blood disease. It is touching in its evident sense of yearning. Solo lines evoke the loneliness of the shakuhachi. The performance is disciplined and strong. The 2005 trio for flute, bass clarinet, and piano,
, could hardly be more different. The number three hangs over many aspects of the work (three instruments; three tripartite movements, each lasting around three minutes). The composer set out to explore the love/hate relationships of the three intimately entwined performers. There is a sense of exploration in this music, music that seems all the stronger for its brevity. The recording here is the weakest accorded to any of the pieces, however, with the piano in particular sounding shallow.
FANFARE: Colin Clarke
Works on This Recording
Echoes of Sarah by Robert Raines
Florida State University Flute Ensemble
Notes: Composition written: 2006 - 2007.
Ménage by Robert Raines
Erin Douglass (Bass Clarinet),
Jose Bevia (Piano),
Deanna Bertsche (Flute)
The Return of Odysseus by Robert Raines
Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra
Written: 2007; USA
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