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Fuchs: String Quartet No 5, Falling Canons, Falling Trio / Christopher O'riley

Fuchs / O'riley / Delray String Quartet
Release Date: 04/30/2013 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8559733  
Composer:  Kenneth Fuchs
Performer:  Christopher O'Riley
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Delray String QuartetTrio 21
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 57 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

"All three works on [this] disc are here receiving their world premiere recordings. In the above interview, Fuchs explains the compositional techniques he uses in these pieces, each of which is based on elements from Falling Man , an extended scena for baritone, voice, and orchestra composed in 2008–2010.

To expand a bit on his description, Falling Canons and Falling Trio are mirror images of each other. Both are made up of seven sections based on the same sequence of intervals, but canonically (in Read more style="font-style:italic">Falling Canons ) and variations-wise (in Falling Trio ) proceeding in contrary motion. Falling Canons is in seven movements for solo piano, and begins with a canon at the unison, starting on the note B. The second canon, at the second, begins a note lower on A; the third canon, at the third, starts on G, a note below the second canon, and so on.

Falling Trio in one movement for violin, cello, and piano is based on the same interval progression, and also begins on the note B. But this time its sections are variations rather than canons, and they proceed in ascending direction with Variation 1 on C, Variation 2 on D, and so on. The solo piano Canons is perhaps the most modern-sounding of three works on the disc. It has a strange, otherworldly, distant beauty to it, but one that feels cold and remote. Parts of it are reminiscent of the approach Copland adopted for his 1930 Piano Variations . I have to assume that pianist Christopher O’Riley meets all of the technical challenges of the piece and performs it to Fuchs’s complete satisfaction.

Falling Trio , though of similar style and largely made up of similar material, is immediately warmer due to the presence of the two string instruments and, for me, at least, an easier and more rewarding listening experience. In fact, I find the trio a melodically rich and emotionally expressive work. An extended passage beginning at 10:15, with its sustained violin and cello lines above sweeping arpeggios in the piano is something that might have been written by Fauré. Trio21—Kinga Augustyn, violin; Robert deMaine, cello; and Jeffrey Biegel, piano—bring out all of the score’s romantic ardor, as well as its strong rhythmic profile.

Of Fuchs’s “American” String Quartet, I think I can honestly say that the opening movement may be one of the most drop-dead gorgeous things I’ve ever heard, and that I can’t think of another composer since Shostakovich who has drawn such sonorities from a string quartet. This is a masterpiece and, in my opinion, makes Fuchs the greatest living American composer. The work was written for the Delray String Quartet whose members—Mei Mei Luo and Tomas Cotik, violins; Richard Fleischman, viola; and Claudio Jaffé, cello—play it magnificently on this disc.

Kenneth Fuchs’s contributions, especially in the genres of orchestral and chamber music, are considerable and significant. The CDs reviewed here represent but a small sampling of his work, but any one of them are likely to whet your appetite for more. Performances and recordings couldn’t be better. Recommended."

FANFARE: Jerry Dubins

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Works on This Recording

Falling Canons by Kenneth Fuchs
Performer:  Christopher O'Riley (Piano)
Quartet for Strings no 5 "American" by Kenneth Fuchs
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Delray String Quartet
Falling Trio by Kenneth Fuchs
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Trio 21

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Excellent March 11, 2014 By Henry S. (Springfield, VA) See All My Reviews "Falling Canons is a 7-part piano piece; Falling Trio is a dramatic one movement piano trio. Both are by-products of a work written previously by Kenneth Fuchs titled Falling Man. These two interesting pieces are bookends around the recording's major work, the striking String Quartet # 5 'American'. This quartet, dating from 2011, is a strong candidate for title of 'masterwork,' in my view. Tonal in nature throughout, it is nevertheless thoroughly modern in the expressive techniques used by the composer. I found it to be a sophisticated work that rewards the listener with a challenging, yet accessible musical sound world. The composer himself wrote the CD booklet notes, so the technical discussion of the internal 'plumbing' of each work on the disk is authentic and honest. The Delray String Quartet in the Quartet # 5, Trio 21 in the Falling Trio, and pianist Christopher O'Riley in Falling Canons play with exquisite discipline and attention to detail, and Naxos' sonic qualities are outstanding, as usual. All in all, this is a first class recording of excellent modern chamber music by a very accomplished American composer. Highly recommended." Report Abuse
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