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Adam Silverman: Sturm / Andrist, Strata, Corigliano Quartet

Silverman / Stern / Barston / Andrist
Release Date: 04/13/2010 
Label:  New Focus   Catalog #: 107   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Adam Silverman
Performer:  Audrey AndristJames SternAmy Sue Barston
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Strata (ensemble)Corigliano Quartet
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 55 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

SILVERMAN Sturm 1. Nocturnes and Reveries 2. Ricochet 3. Corrie Q’s Jigs and Reels 4 1 James Stern (vn); 1 Amy Sue Barston (vc); 1,2 Audrey Andrist (pn); 3 Strata; Read more class="SUPER12">4 Corigliano Qrt NEW FOCUS FCR107 (55:07)

The cover shows Adam Silverman, eyes closed, apparently in a rain shower. I suppose an assistant, off camera, might be holding a watering can, but let’s be generous. As it is, this is perhaps the most experimental part of a disc that contains music that is unashamedly tonal. What sets it apart from some of the discs recently sent to me for review is the composer’s willingness to write brisk, energetic, fresh music. Silverman, born in 1973, writes in a variety of genres. In addition to the classical concert works on this disc, there is rock-based music for live performers and electronics, opera, conceptual music theater, and educational music. I mention this because there is clearly more to Silverman than is represented by the music on this CD. ( What’s in Sophie’s Diaper? , “now a classic in the 0–3 year-old demographic,” is still available, according to the man’s Web site.)

Sturm (2002) takes its title from the phrase used to describe a period of Haydn’s symphonies, Sturm und Drang —“storm and stress”; the implication being that here you get the storm, the energy, but not the stress. Each of the three movements of this trio is then titled with a similar pairing—“Forcefully, with bite,” “Tenderly, with passion,” “Swiftly, with aggression.” Running almost 20 minutes, Sturm adopts a standard fast–slow–fast layout, the first movement “an essay in waylaid anxiousness.” I’m not sure I know what that means or whether the music has successfully portrayed it, but the movement is brisk and invigorating, as is the third, a more straightforward scherzo-finale. Sturm is an exuberant and generous work without a shred of uncertainty or naiveté.

In the Nocturnes and Reveries (2004), Silverman chooses to confront Debussy and other masters of the French Impressionist piano piece head on. Of course, Silverman comes off worse. I don’t like the metaphor of a contest but Silverman, by being so specific, makes the comparisons inevitable in this work. Described as “intricate miniatures,” the six pieces are more in the way of studies (and I don’t mean etudes), inconclusive in some cases, rather than fully fledged pieces, and this just adds to the frustration. Running nearly 14 minutes, the six pieces offer plenty of contrast in terms of pace and mood, but one is inclined to think they are either too short—more development would have created something really interesting (for example, the fourth piece, Tenderly )—or too long—too much of the same thing (for example the third piece, Agitated ). One is left wondering what Silverman really wanted to do; it’s as if he is pulling his punches here.

In Ricochet , for clarinet, viola, and piano (2004), Silverman returns to the instrumental interplay of Sturm . The title refers to the quicksilver moods portrayed in the music, but also to the “ricochet” bow stroke, in which the bow bounces repeatedly against the string producing a flurry of short notes. The other instruments are then encouraged to imitate this style. “So,” writes Silverman, “this piece is about ricochets—not only about this kind of bowing (which there is quite a bit of) but the whole idea of things bouncing off of each other—and there are parts of the piece inspired by cartoony sounds of gunshot ricochets, which, as in cartoons, never leave more than a mild sting.” Strata—which is Nathan Williams, clarinet; James Stern, viola; and Audrey Andrist, piano—commissioned Ricochet , and it surely delivers a compelling performance.

Stern and Andrist join forces with Amy Sue Barston for Sturm ; Barston is the cellist of the Corigiliano Quartet, which provides the final work on this disc, Corrie Q’s Jigs and Reels (2005), aka Silverman’s third quartet. This is a somewhat less demanding piece that presents Irish traditional music (whether real or imagined, I don’t know) in a straightforward but entertaining way. I particularly like the cadential glissandi that end the movements, the first and third of which are jaunty and energetic while the middle one is a slightly terse set of variations. Once again, the music is performed by its dedicatees; one can’t ask for more verve and panache from the Corries (if I may be familiar).

FANFARE: Jeremy Marchant
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Works on This Recording

Sturm, for piano quartet by Adam Silverman
Performer:  Audrey Andrist (Piano), James Stern (Viola), Amy Sue Barston (Cello),
James Stern (Violin)
Period: Contemporary 
Venue:  Recital Hall of the Performing Arts Cent 
Length: 19 Minutes 16 Secs. 
Nocturnes and Reveries, for piano by Adam Silverman
Performer:  Audrey Andrist (Piano)
Period: Contemporary 
Venue:  Recital Hall of the Performing Arts Cent 
Length: 13 Minutes 1 Secs. 
Ricochet, for ensemble by Adam Silverman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Strata (ensemble)
Period: Contemporary 
Venue:  Recital Hall of the Performing Arts Cent 
Length: 8 Minutes 40 Secs. 
String Quartet No. 3 "Corrie Q's Jigs and Reels" by Adam Silverman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Corigliano Quartet
Period: Contemporary 
Date of Recording: 05/02/2007 
Venue:  Concert Hall of the Performing Arts Cent 
Length: 13 Minutes 25 Secs. 

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