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Oliver Caplan: Illuminations

Oliver Caplan: Illuminations / Var
Release Date: 08/21/2012 
Label:  Oliver Caplan Music   Catalog #: 5637904943   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Oliver Caplan
Performer:  Rolf SchulteDavid RussellGeoffrey BurlesonJulia Carey,   ... 
Conductor:  Lidiya YankovskayaAdam Klemens
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Contemporary PlayersJuventas Ensemble
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 0 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



CAPLAN Illuminated By the Light of 2 Ships Passing in the Night. 2,3,4 Fanfare for the Importance of Imagination. 2,3,4 My Elephant Cloud. 8 November 3. 5 For Pondering. 5 Is There a Word That Means Return? 8 Journey to the West 1,6,7,9 Read more class="SUPER12">1 Adam Klemens, cond; 2 Rolf Schulte (vn); 3 David Russell (vc); 4 Geoffrey Burleson (pn); 5 Julia Scott Carey (pn); 6 Rachel Mellis (fl); 7 Yunhe Liang (erhu); 8 Juventas New Music Ens; 9 Prague O OC MUSIC 01 (59:22)


American composer Oliver Caplan (b.1982) was educated at Dartmouth College and the Boston Conservatory. This is the first CD devoted to his music and contains pieces in a variety of forms: chamber, vocal, solo piano, and orchestral music. Caplan’s style is lush and colorful, with a consonant harmonic language. The influence of film music is very audibly present, not just in the musical material, but especially in formal structures and large-scale designs. Things tend to unfold very quickly, and the music moves from one place to another at a relatively brisk pace. Like film music, this creates engaging moments, although there are certainly times when a lovely idea and texture builds to a climax so fast that one has not had a chance to fully enjoy it, let alone to hear it develop to its full potential. From a sound and harmony perspective, Caplan’s music stakes out a gentle “American” world (with strong folk allusions) similar to that of Rick Sowash, the widely recorded American composer. Certainly Sowash’s many listeners would enjoy Caplan’s pieces.


The disc opens with two short works for piano trio. Both are very beautiful in their material, although it seems there are enough ideas in Illuminated By the Light of Two Ships Passing in the Night (2009) to construct a piece three times as long, if one so desired. Is There a Word That Means Return? (2010) attempts the difficult task of combining sung words, spoken words, and instrumental music. The text by Meghan Guidry is an elegiac remembrance of her father. It is unquestionably the most effective piece on the disc, as Caplan’s scene-painting ability is put to strong use in the service of text and images. The folk-like material provides the perfect musical environment for the words.


Journey to the West (2011) is a programmatic double concerto for orchestra with flute and erhu. It is inspired by the famous 16th-century Chinese novel, and the four short movements paint highly cinematic pictures. Caplan is part of a generation of composers for whom film music is often a significant and important influence, even when writing purely concert works. The challenge is navigating the differences in expectation between pacing and control of a concert piece and a film score. This album overall certainly makes for an appealing listening experience, and the performances are generally very good. (Although Rolf Schulte’s characteristically edgy violin tone is effective in his core performance repertoire of modernist American music, it’s much less pleasant for Caplan’s very tonal canvases.)


FANFARE: Carson Cooman
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Works on This Recording

1.
Illuminated by the Light of Two Ships Passing in the Night, for violin, cello & piano by Oliver Caplan
Performer:  Rolf Schulte (Violin), David Russell (Cello), Geoffrey Burleson (Piano)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Contemporary Players
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 2009 
Length: 5 Minutes 33 Secs. 
2.
Fanfare for the Importance of Imagination, for violin, cello & piano by Oliver Caplan
Performer:  Rolf Schulte (Violin), David Russell (Cello), Geoffrey Burleson (Piano)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Contemporary Players
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 2010 
Length: 6 Minutes 8 Secs. 
3.
My Elephant Cloud, for flute, clarinet, violin, cello & piano by Oliver Caplan
Performer:  Julia Carey (Piano), Zachary Jay (Flute), Alexis Lanz (Clarinet),
Rachel Arnold (Cello), Brenda van der Merwe (Violin)
Conductor:  Lidiya Yankovskaya
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Juventas Ensemble
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 2011 
Length: 7 Minutes 58 Secs. 
4.
November 3, for piano by Oliver Caplan
Performer:  Julia Carey (Piano)
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 2005 
Length: 4 Minutes 27 Secs. 
5.
For Pondering, for piano by Oliver Caplan
Performer:  Julia Carey (Piano)
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 2005 
Length: 10 Minutes 18 Secs. 
6.
Is There a Word That Means Return?, for narrator, voice, flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano & per by Oliver Caplan
Performer:  Julia Carey (Piano), Zachary Jay (Flute), Rachel Arnold (Cello),
Alexis Lanz (Clarinet), Brenda van der Merwe (Violin), Darian Worrell (Bass Baritone)
Conductor:  Lidiya Yankovskaya
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Juventas Ensemble
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 2010 
Length: 10 Minutes 8 Secs. 
7.
Journey to the West, for flute, erhu & orchestra by Oliver Caplan
Performer:  Yunhe Liang (Erhu), Rachel Mellis (Flute)
Conductor:  Adam Klemens
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 2011 
Length: 15 Minutes 55 Secs. 

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