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Ghosts - Solos And Duets

Beauport Classical
Release Date: 12/01/2009 
Label:  Beauport Classical   Catalog #: 5637584866   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Chris ArrellPamela J. MarshallHarry BulowKen Metz,   ... 
Performer:  Rhonda TaylorMonica HuggettHarry BulowCristina Webster,   ... 
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 1 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This disc contains a series of American instrumental solos and duos. The connection between the composers or their works is not immediately apparent, and nor is it explained in the sleeve-notes.

The programme opens with the title track, Ghosts by Chris Arrell, for solo baritone saxophone, performed capably here by Rhonda Taylor. Arrell’s writing calls for melodic lines interspersed with an increasing number of gasping breaths, air sounds and other contemporary techniques. The intention seems to be to create a seamless transition between the known and the unknown, and although the effect works well initially, the musical material was not enough to maintain my interest for the entire eight and a half minute duration. John
Read more Carollo’s short Metamorphosis No. 3 for solo violin has considerable charm and is heard here in a controlled performance by Darel Stark.

The mellow tones of Monica Duncan’s clarinet follow, in Pamela J. Marshall’s Summer into Winter. Based on the text of Shakespeare’s Sonnet No. 5, the music has a sense of gentle poetry in both the composition and its performance. Harry Bulow’s Syntax II for saxophone is played with a wonderful jazz-like tone by the composer on the saxophone. The opening mood is delicate, using timbral contrasts and expansive phrases, before building into a frenzy of trills and virtuoso note patterns. This is a highly enjoyable piece which has much to offer.

Southwestern Sketches by Ken Metz is a four movement work for solo flute which pays homage to native American flute music. There are many works in existence based on a similar theme, and while this piece is well crafted and enjoyable, with a good sense of contrast between the movements, it fits very much into a certain style of flute writing. I do not intend for that comment to sound unduly harsh; the music is well played by Cristina Webster and has much to offer. A second clarinet piece follows, again played by Monica Duncan. Andrew Bonacci’s The Caged Bird begins in a subdued mood which is interspersed with moments of activity, enabling the listener to imagine the creature of the title.

The first duo on the disc is Carson Cooman’s Estampie for two violins. This is an enjoyable work which contains much within its three and a half minute duration. Cooman’s combination of modal and atonal languages works surprisingly effectively, and the work’s energy is well conveyed by violinists Digby and Smith. By the same composer, Ancient Airs for soprano saxophone is recorded with much reverb, which is effective in the slower sections of the work but creates a lack of detail in the faster sections. Paul Wehage, the work’s dedicatee, plays well, although Cooman’s combination of musical languages, building in ‘tones from other modalities’ is less convincing here.

The simplicity of Charles Cacioppo’s musical language comes as something of a surprise after Cooman’s works, but soon settles into its own world. The 2003 Piece for Unaccompanied Clarinet has a sense of being based on the style of a study, with moments of expressive melodic writing combined with more florid technical requirements based on scalic patterns. The final work on the disc is Stephen Yip’s imaginative Hundun for harp and double bass, which has a strong Eastern influence and a distinct compositional voice. Based on Chinese legend, the work makes extensive use of the available sonorities from these two instruments, creating a fascinating sound world and some well considered textures which maintain interest throughout the work’s ten minute duration.

This is an interesting combination of works, with some strengths of individual style and other, more generic works. The playing from the instrumentalists is consistently good, serving the composers well, but rarely world class. Recording projects such as this, which document new works by young or less established composers are often the result of a lot of effort and passion by those who make them, frequently with limited resources. These efforts deserve to be rewarded, and I hope this music will be heard.

-- Carla Rees, MusicWeb International Read less

Works on This Recording

1. Ghosts, for baritone saxophone by Chris Arrell
Performer:  Rhonda Taylor ()
Date of Recording: 2006 
Venue:  Live  4th Annual Festival of Contemporary Musi 
Length: 8 Minutes 30 Secs. 
2. Summer into Winter, for clarinet by Pamela J. Marshall
Performer:  Monica Huggett (Clarinet)
Date of Recording: 2008 
Venue:  Studio 251, Gloucester, MA 
Length: 3 Minutes 23 Secs. 
3. Syntax II, for saxophone by Harry Bulow
Performer:  Harry Bulow (Saxophone)
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 1984 
Date of Recording: 2003 
Venue:  Center for Music Technology, University 
Length: 5 Minutes 24 Secs. 
4. Southwestern Sketches, for flute by Ken Metz
Performer:  Cristina Webster (Flute)
Date of Recording: 2008 
Venue:  UMKC Recording Studio, Kansas City, MO 
Length: 8 Minutes 1 Secs. 
5. The Caged Bird, for clarinet by Andrew Bonacci
Performer:  Monica Huggett (Clarinet)
Date of Recording: 2008 
Venue:  Studio 251, Gloucester, MA 
Length: 5 Minutes 44 Secs. 
6. Estampie, for 2 violins by Carson P. Cooman
Performer:  Maurice Smith (Violin), Phillip Digby (Violin)
Period: Contemporary 
Date of Recording: 2005 
Venue:  Central Studio, Independence, MO 
Length: 3 Minutes 42 Secs. 
7. Ancient Airs, for soprano saxophone by Unspecified
Performer:  Paul Wehage ()
Date of Recording: 2005 
Venue:  Musik Fabrik Studios, Lagny-sur-Marne, F 
Length: 7 Minutes 38 Secs. 
8. Piece for Unaccompanied Clarinet by Charles Cacioppo
Performer:  Ikuko Arai (Clarinet)
Date of Recording: 2005 
Venue:  Purchase College SUNY, Recital Hall, NY 
Length: 3 Minutes 45 Secs. 
9. Hundun, for harp & double bass by Stephen Yip
Performer:  Shawn [Double Bass] Conley (Double Bass), Megan Levin (Harp)
Date of Recording: 2008 
Venue:  Lillian H. Duncan Recital Hall, Shepherd 
Length: 10 Minutes 19 Secs. 
10. Metamorphosis for violin No. 3 by John Carollo
Performer:  Darel Stark (Violin)
Date of Recording: 2006 
Venue:  rRed Elephant Cafe, Honolulu, HI 
Length: 3 Minutes 48 Secs. 

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