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David Braid: Chamber And Instrumental Music

Braid / Davidson / Kalnits / Cigleris / Podobedov
Release Date: 10/30/2012 
Label:  Toccata Classics   Catalog #: 149   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  David Braid
Performer:  Grace DavidsonSergei PodobedovYuri KalnitsPeter Cigleris,   ... 
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tippett String QuartetErato Piano Trio
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

BRAID Morning, Op. 3 1. Three Pieces, Op. 8 2. Invention, Op. 11 3. Sonata for Quartet, Op. 13 4. Infinite Reminiscence, Op. 4 5. Music for Dancers, Op. 9 Read more class="SUPER12">6. Postlude, Op. 10 7 1 Grace Davidson (sop); 2,3 Sergei Podobedov, 5 John-Paul Ekins, 7 Jelena Lakovi? (pn); 3 Yuri Kalnits (vn); 4 Peter Cigleris (cl); 4,6 Erato Pn Tr; 1 Tippett Stg Qt TOCCATA 0149 (57:48)

David Braid was born in North Wales in 1970. He has studied in both the U.K. and in Poland. This is the first disc of his music. He is currently based in London. The use of counterpoint in the hypnotic setting of Nerruda in Morning is gripping. The composer stipulates a “Baroque/Early” soprano, intending the vocal part to be realized by a pure, free from vibrato voice. And that is exactly what is on offer here. Grace Davidson is simply superb (the name is new to me, I confess: She has specialized in early music and was a finalist in the London Handel Competition). She sings with a luminous intensity that seems entirely right for Pickard’s score, so that the overall impression is of a music infused with the light of dawn. The first of the op. 8 Three Pieces , “Lyrical Toccata,” bristles with difficulty (it reminds me of the spirit of Ligeti Etudes, if not quite so fiendish). The pieces were written for the present performer in 2008, who is as able to capture the charm of the second and third pieces as he is able to conquer the first.

Although Russian violinist Yuri Kalnits’s tone is rather grating, the 2001 Invention nevertheless emerges as an engaging piece that includes a section of deliberate asynchronization between the performers, prior to a slow coda. Dating from a decade later, the Sonata for Quartet is the most recent work here. It seems (to my ears) to include references to the English pastoral tradition before working its way to a climactic fugue. The clarinettist Peter Cigleris is superb, his tone positively endearing, his tuning excellent. This is the longest work on the disc, and as such gives Braid a chance to spread his wings. The performers evidently seize at the work’s lyric heart. I love Braid’s description of the atmosphere of the two piano Infinite Reminiscence as “a wet, late afternoon in a moribund cafe, perhaps.” It seems to sum it up perfectly. The work can be played as a piano duet, but the luxury of having two pianos available for this recording meant that the two “streams” can exhibit that much more independence before finally merging in the work’s later stages.

Music for Dancers (2009) for piano trio was written for non-existent dancers in the spirit of Stanislaw Lem’s A Perfect Vacuum , a book of reviews of books that do not exist. There is a certain hectic quality to the music (are the dancers on something?), perfectly realized here by the performers. There is something fascinating about this score, something slightly off-the-wall that is difficult to put the finger on. Its very elusiveness is its charm. Finally, and aptly, a 2010 Postlude written for the performer here. The composer sets himself limitations and challenges: how far he could go from the original, simple motif while keeping the work “entirely unified.” I am not sure complete unity is that achievable (it was the goal of the integral serialists, one might argue, and we can also argue about whether they succeeded or not) and so without wishing to get into argument over the point, it simply remains to say that the work’s simplicity of utterance is absolutely delightful, and a perfect way to end a stimulating disc.

FANFARE: Colin Clarke
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Works on This Recording

Morning, Op. 3 by David Braid
Performer:  Grace Davidson (Soprano)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tippett String Quartet
Pieces (3) for Piano, Op. 8 by David Braid
Performer:  Sergei Podobedov (Piano)
Invention for Violin and Piano, Op. 11 by David Braid
Performer:  Yuri Kalnits (Violin), Sergei Podobedov (Piano)
Sonata for Quartet, Op. 13 by David Braid
Performer:  Peter Cigleris (Clarinet)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Erato Piano Trio
Infinite Reminiscence, Op. 4 by David Braid
Performer:  Rossitza Stoycheva (Piano), Mikako Hori (Piano)
Music for Dancers, Op. 9 by David Braid
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Erato Piano Trio
Postlude for Piano, Op. 10 by David Braid
Performer:  Jelena Lakovic (Piano)

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