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Carl: Music For Strings / Lansdale, Adaskin String Trio


Release Date: 03/28/2006 
Label:  New World Records   Catalog #: 80645   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Robert Carl
Performer:  Emlyn NgaiSteven LarsonMark FraserKatie Lansdale,   ... 
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Adaskin String Trio
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 7 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



CARL Open. 1 Violin Sonata No. 2, ? Angel-Skating.? 2 String Quartet No. 2 3 ? Adaskin Str Tr; 1,3 Kate Lansdale (vn); 2 John McDonald (pn); 2 Annie Trépanier (vn) 3 ? Read more class="ARIAL12"> NEW WORLD 80645 (67:26)


Robert Carl?s uniquely effective music often seems to take on a visceral physicality. This seems to be part of Carl?s working method, or more broadly, his very ethos. The string trio Open is initiated by an upward glissando that evokes the Rhapsody in Blue , but the ensuing material is the antithesis of that jaunty favorite. The calmly paced triologue relentlessly pushes towards a dramatic resolution, amassing layers of sound that are at once emotionally sophisticated, but as structurally basic as a sand castle built piles at a time by the hands of a child. For all of the density and harmonic boldness of the piece, it is the eloquently simple four-note motive that weathers the storm of raging polytonality and stays with the listener.


The subtle microtonality of Open comes more to the fore in ?Angel-Skating,? the Violin Sonata No. 2. In a string trio, any of the instruments can engage in note bending, but in the Sonata, Carl uses the firmly diatonic piano as a foil to the slithering tonality of the violin. The middle movement is a variation set that uses a pair of rocking intervals, reminiscent of the motif for Open , as the basis for a progression that traces a large architectural arch of meticulous construction. The Chaconne that concludes the Sonata is, in the composer?s own words, ?the most overtly lyrical, simple, and romantic music I?ve ever written.? This sounds deceptively apologetic, but there is certainly a romantic impulse, or perhaps more accurately, a kind of self-effacing humanism in any of the music of Carl that I have heard, including a live performance by the composer of some of his vocal works. And, in case any reader does not recognize the name, Robert Carl is also a regular contributor to this publication, where his passion about and empathy for his fellow composers is always articulately expressed.


What I cannot recall reading in Carl?s reviews or notes is any reference to the music of Shostakovich, but the shadow of that 20th-century giant does seem to loom over the massively conceived String Quartet No. 2. The similarity lies in the pattern of vivid, almost hysterical emotional energy (the first movement, ?Fear of Death,? is almost unbearable in this regard), which is then resolved in a deeply somber way that always retains a trace of the angst. The opening melody of the middle movement, titled ?Hymn: In Growing Awareness of Beauty?s Presence,? sounds like a variation of the closing theme of Shostakovich?s Symphony No. 13, which Carl then infuses with a distinctly American folksiness. The work concludes with a burst of joy, appropriately so for a movement titled ?Love of Life,? with bright, upward sprinting melodies and slashing unison chords, at times sounding like a modern take on a sprightly Bach chorale. In this music, Carl lays bare his soul in an open and even brave way that is rarely heard these days. In doing so, he achieves a level of bold intensity that may not be for everybody, but those who share any degree of the composer?s emotional and spiritual mettle will be well rewarded.


The performances are strong, focused, and strident. One must assume that the musicians, many colleagues of Carl at The Hartt School of Music in Connecticut, where he is chair of the composition department, developed this music with the close supervision of the composer. It would be fascinating to hear this material from others as well. New World?s engineering is exceptionally dynamic and lifelike.


FANFARE: Peter Burwasser
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Works on This Recording

1.
Open by Robert Carl
Performer:  Emlyn Ngai (Violin), Steven Larson (Viola), Mark Fraser (Cello)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Adaskin String Trio
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1998; USA 
Venue:  Millard Hall, University of Hartford, CT 
Length: 16 Minutes 57 Secs. 
Notes: Millard Hall, University of Hartford, CT (1/11/2003 - 1/12/2003) 
2.
Sonata for Violin and Piano "Angel-Skating" by Robert Carl
Performer:  Katie Lansdale (Violin), John McDonald (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1999 
Date of Recording: 10/11/2002 
Venue:  University of Hartford, Connecticut 
Length: 27 Minutes 14 Secs. 
3.
Quartet for Strings no 2 "Fear of Death / Love of Life" by Robert Carl
Performer:  Steven Larson (Viola), Emlyn Ngai (Violin), Annie Trépanier (Violin),
Mark Fraser (Cello)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Adaskin String Trio
Period: 20th Century 
Venue:  Millard Hall, University of Hartford, CT 
Length: 22 Minutes 55 Secs. 
Notes: Millard Hall, University of Hartford, CT (01/11/2003 - 01/12/2003)
Composition written: USA (2000 - 2001). 
4.
Open by Robert Carl
Performer:  Steven Larson (Viola), Mark Fraser (Cello), Emlyn Ngai (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Adaskin String Trio
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1998; USA 
Venue:  Millard Hall, University of Hartford, CT 
Length: 16 Minutes 57 Secs. 
Notes: Millard Hall, University of Hartford, CT (01/11/2003 - 01/12/2003) 

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