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Silverman: Transatlantic Tales / Zimmermann, Sorensen, Gantriis

Silverman / Zimmermann / Corona Guitar Kvartet
Release Date: 03/08/2011 
Label:  Albany Records   Catalog #: 1250  
Composer:  Faye-Ellen Silverman
Performer:  Volkmar ZimmermannPer Dybro SorensenKristian GantriisMikkel Andersen,   ... 
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Corona Guitar Quartet
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Back Order: Usually ships in 2 to 3 weeks.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

SILVERMAN Processional. 3 Guitars. In Shadow. Wilde’s World. Danish Delights. Pregnant Pauses Corona Guitar Qrt; Malene Bichel, Sara Fiil (sop); Jan Lund (ten); Maria Sook Garmark (cl); Ninnie Isaksson (va) ALBANY TROY 1250 (61:18)

This fine disc comes as the result of a recent friendship that New York-born composer Faye-Ellen Silverman made with German-born, Denmark-based guitarist Volkmar Zimmermann, when he was scouting for new American compositions suitable for his guitar quartet. It was a source of new Read more horizons and challenges for Silverman, but in addition to the new works written for the Corona Quartet, this album looks back to her earlier guitar works, vocal and instrumental. So it is a ragbag of Silverman’s pieces, old and new, with influences of English, Greek, and American literature, so it makes sense that this Danish-American collaboration is titled Transatlantic Tales.

We start very gently with Silverman’s evocative, Mediterranean-tinged Processional for solo guitar, with its ever-increasing intensity belying a clever structured use of familiar guitar chords and progressions, coming back full circle on itself. A deceptively simple-sounding work. In contrast, Three Guitars (1980) is a dissonant, menacing, and at times combative work of a young composer with a lot to prove. Although interesting and audacious, it is quite awkward, restless company on a disc full of more considered and lyrical compositions. Despite the atonality, Silverman’s gift for lyricism and text-setting is at the forefront of her miniature song cycle In Shadow, the earliest work here. It is a startlingly mature and original setting of three Emily Dickinson texts ( Elysium, Out of the Morning, and In Shadow ). Composed in response to personal tragedy, it acts like snapshots of grief, not just a response to the poems, but also in external ways, like the quote of a children’s song interrupting one’s personal grieving, the concept of other lives going on. The otherworldly nature of the vocal writing is wonderfully drawn out in Malene Bichel’s bright, sensitive singing.

Clearly Silverman’s disjointed style has mellowed over the decades. Wilde’s World (2000) is harmonically more settled, and quite Brittenesque in style and word-setting. Jan Lund’s rather small tenor conveys the potent anguish of Wilde’s poem of thwarted love (the text is Roses and Rue ) and he sits nicely against the unusual pairing of viola and guitar.

Delicately written for soprano and guitar, Danish Delights (2009) is an ambitious setting of texts by Sara Teasdale ( Pierrot ), Thomas Campion (a modernized version of When to Her Lute, Corinna Sings ), and fragments by Corinna herself (neatly becoming personified by the soprano). With her close recording and use of spoken word, there is something very folksy and heightened about Sara Fiil’s vivid performance of these disparate texts. Pregnant Pauses (2005) concludes the disc in similar style to the opening track although it is an even more sophisticated work, acting like a set of variations on a flamenco theme, and using silences to allow melodic ideas to change and develop. A fine answer to criticism that her music didn’t breathe.

I am as impressed by the playing as Silverman clearly was when she first encountered Zimmermann. The playing of the Corona Quartet (both together and as individual soloists) is devilishly precise yet passionate, and they are well matched by the singers’ and wind players’ high-quality contributions, making this a typically high-quality release from Albany with bright but balanced sound. Notes are excellent and the texts are also included. One unusual extra is a bonus video track (playable on computers) of a German short film, inspired by Peter Bichel’s Der Tisch ist ein Tisch. Processional is a rather awkward fit to this surreal but pretentious comment on man, science, and food. Worth watching for the clever stop-motion effects, and I am all in favor of more CDs with short films attached. Otherwise YouTube is the only outlet these works get. All in all, a very engaging disc of new guitar music.

FANFARE: Barnaby Rayfield
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Works on This Recording

Processional by Faye-Ellen Silverman
Performer:  Volkmar Zimmermann (Guitar)
Period: 21st Century 
Written: USA 
3 Guitars by Faye-Ellen Silverman
Performer:  Per Dybro Sorensen (Guitar), Volkmar Zimmermann (Guitar), Kristian Gantriis (Guitar)
Period: 21st Century 
Written: USA 
In Shadow by Faye-Ellen Silverman
Performer:  Mikkel Andersen (Guitar), Malene Bichel (Soprano), Maria Sook Garmark (Clarinet)
Period: 21st Century 
Written: USA 
Wilde's World by Faye-Ellen Silverman
Performer:  Kristian Gantriis (Guitar), Jan Lund (Tenor), Ninnie Isaksson (Viola)
Period: 21st Century 
Written: USA 
Danish Delights by Faye-Ellen Silverman
Performer:  Volkmar Zimmermann (Guitar), Sara Fiil (Soprano)
Period: 21st Century 
Written: USA 
Pregnant Pauses by Faye-Ellen Silverman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Corona Guitar Quartet
Period: 21st Century 
Written: USA 

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