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Michael Alec Rose: Chamber And Solo Works For Strings And Horn

Rose / Trandafilovski / Kreutzer Quartet / Longbow
Release Date: 07/30/2013 
Label:  Toccata Classics   Catalog #: 172   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Michael Alec Rose
Performer:  Peter Sheppard SkaervedCarly LakeMihailo TrandafilovskiMorgan Goff,   ... 
Conductor:  Peter Sheppard Skaerved
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 0 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



ROSE Air 1. Hubbert Peak 2. Everything Under the Sun 3. Three Short Obsessions 1. An Arch Never Sleeps 4. Palimpsest 1. Dr. Johnson and Mr. Savage: Pantomime 4. All’arme 5. Hopeful Read more Monsters 6 1,2,3,4 Peter Sheppard Skærved, 2,3 Mihailo Trandafilovski (vn); 2 Morgan Goff (va); 2 Neil Heyde (vc); 4 Rachel Meerloo (db); 5 Carly Lake (hn); 6 Longbow TOCCATA 0172 (60:09)


Born in 1959 in Philadelphia, Michael Alec Rose (associate professor of composition at the Blair School of Music, part of Vanderbilt University) met Peter Sheppard Skærved in 2004, at the prompting of composer George Rochberg. And the rest, as they say, is history: a sequence of works for the violinist and his colleagues, plus a vibrant exchange program between Vanderbilt and the Royal Academy of Music in London. Rose has a website that is well worth investigating: michaelalecrose.com.


Peter Sheppard Skærved, a superb soloist in his own right as well as lead violinist with the Kreutzer Quartet (the ensemble performing Hubbert Peak on the present recording), is the fine and eloquent soloist in the demanding Air (2009). There is an underlying feel of dance, but there is the feeling of rather more shady dealings afoot, also. Sheppard Skærved and his second in command in the Kreutzer Quartet, Mihailo Trandafilovski, provide lyricism in the first (“Spring”) of Everything under the Sun: Four Seasons for Two Violins (2004), a movement that revels in post-Bachian polyphony. The Summer of this particular year brings to mind the slowed down movements of insects in the too-hot sun. The chords merely sit there with a minimum of vibrato; later, a high violin delivers an unpredictable line before a shower of pizzicatos closes the movement.


The next movement is referred to (properly) in the booklet as “Autumn” yet fixes on the alternative version of “Fall” on the disc’s back cover. I jest, of course, dear American readers, and at least Toccata’s layout gives us the best of both worlds. There is a sense of play here, but it is play of a decidedly earthy variety. The playing is electrifying in its dedication. Clearly, much thought has gone into the emotions projected, whether deliciously playful, lullaby-like or festive. The recording is close, but not claustrophobically so.


It is testament to Sheppard Skærved’s virtuosity that one hardly believes that the Three Short Obsessions (2004) are for solo violin. The energy is infectious, as it is in the buzzings of Palimpsest (2006). Inspired by an archaeological find that Rose took on a personal flight of fantasy back to Noah and the flood, it is only three minutes long but takes in an astonishing amount in its journey.


The intriguingly named Hubbert Peak: Three Gas Stations for String Quartet (2009) is inspired by three paintings featuring gas stations by Stuart Davis. Dedicated to the Kreutzer Quartet, it is given a performance full of tension, as if freshly minted. The Finale, “Gas,” is remarkable in its impact. Here the Kreutzer Quartet is ever mindful of the expressive force of dissonance, and of the sudden single line. Almost exactly as long as the other two movements combined, this Finale progresses to a helter-skelter ride.


Most fascinating of all, perhaps, is An Arch Never Sleeps (2009) for solo violin and double bass. Inspired by the looping curves of the walls of Wilton’s Music Hall in London’s East End, the piece quotes from Gershwin, but as always the quotes are fully internalized into Rose’s musical language. There is wit here, too. This is a delightful, intriguing piece in which Rose fully exploits the registral chasm between the two instruments.


Violin and cello duet in Dr. Johnson and Mr. Savage: Pantomime (2008). The title refers to Samuel Johnson, the biographer, and the poet Richard Savage, his subject. An imagined night-time conversation between these two friends, it is given a most characterful performance by Sheppard Skærved and the resonant, suave cello of Neil Heyde.


The brief All’arme (2012) for solo horn lasts less than two minutes but makes its point well, with terrific playing here from Carly Lake. It was in fact written for Lake to play from the top of the Monument in the City of London, and contains no less than 15 top Cs. The performance here is entirely apt in its raucous delivery.


Finally, there comes Hopeful Monsters of 2011for string orchestra (the orchestra includes the members of the Quartet). Commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Cable Street (a day in 1936 when, in East London, crowds gathered to protest against fascism), it is a fascinating canvas that includes references to Jewish music in its faster section. The title is borrowed from Nicholas Mosley and refers to biological mutations that hover on extinction. Lee Hallman’s exemplary booklet notes suggest this is reflected in Rose’s use of harmony, with its clear tonal references that it just as often seeks to negate—or at least toy with.


All pieces here receive their first recordings, and the disc was made in the presence of the composer. Unhesitatingly recommended.


FANFARE: Colin Clarke
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Works on This Recording

1.
Three Short Obsessions, for violin by Michael Alec Rose
Performer:  Peter Sheppard Skaerved (Violin)
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 2004 
Date of Recording: 03/19/2012 
Venue:  St John the Baptist, Aldbury 
Length: 4 Minutes 26 Secs. 
2.
Palimpsest, for violin by Michael Alec Rose
Performer:  Peter Sheppard Skaerved (Violin)
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 2006 
Date of Recording: 03/19/2012 
Venue:  St John the Baptist, Aldbury 
Length: 3 Minutes 25 Secs. 
3.
All'arme, for horn by Michael Alec Rose
Performer:  Carly Lake (Horn)
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 2012 
Date of Recording: 03/19/2012 
Venue:  St John the Baptist, Aldbury 
Length: 1 Minutes 47 Secs. 
4.
Air for violin by Michael Alec Rose
Performer:  Peter Sheppard Skaerved (Violin)
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 2009 
Date of Recording: 03/19/2012 
Venue:  St John the Baptist, Aldbury 
Length: 2 Minutes 59 Secs. 
5.
Hubbert Peak: Three Gas Stations, for string quartet by Michael Alec Rose
Performer:  Peter Sheppard Skaerved (Violin), Mihailo Trandafilovski (Violin), Morgan Goff (Viola),
Neil Heyde (Cello)
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 2007-2008 
Date of Recording: 03/12/2012 
Venue:  St John the Baptist, Aldbury 
Length: 15 Minutes 1 Secs. 
6.
Everything Under the Sun: Four Seasons, for 2 violins by Michael Alec Rose
Performer:  Peter Sheppard Skaerved (Violin), Mihailo Trandafilovski (Violin)
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 2009 
Date of Recording: 11/27/2011 
Venue:  Tring Parish Church 
Length: 11 Minutes 5 Secs. 
7.
An Arch Never Sleeps, duo for violin & double bass by Michael Alec Rose
Performer:  Rachel [Double Bass] Meerloo (Double Bass), Peter Sheppard Skaerved (Violin)
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 2009 
Date of Recording: 03/19/2012 
Venue:  St John the Baptist, Aldbury 
Length: 6 Minutes 5 Secs. 
8.
Dr. Johnson and Mr. Savage: Pantomime, for violin & cello by Michael Alec Rose
Performer:  Michael Alec Rose (Bell), Neil Heyde (Cello), Peter Sheppard Skaerved (Violin)
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 2008 
Date of Recording: 03/12/2012 
Venue:  St John the Baptist, Aldbury 
Length: 6 Minutes 31 Secs. 
9.
Hopeful Monsters, for string orchestra by Michael Alec Rose
Performer:  Mihailo Trandafilovski (Violin), Rachel [Double Bass] Meerloo (Double Bass), Peter Sheppard Skaerved (Violin)
Conductor:  Peter Sheppard Skaerved
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 2011 
Date of Recording: 11/27/2011 
Venue:  Tring Parish Church 
Length: 7 Minutes 21 Secs. 

Sound Samples

Air
Hubbert Peak: Three Gas Stations: I. Garage Lights
Hubbert Peak: Three Gas Stations: II. Standard
Hubbert Peak: Three Gas Stations: III. Gas
Everything Under the Sun: Four Seasons: I. Spring
Everything Under the Sun: Four Seasons: II. Summer
Everything Under the Sun: Four Seasons: III. Fall
Everything Under the Sun: Four Seasons: IV. Winter
3 Short Obsessions: No. 1. Farchadat
3 Short Obsessions: No. 2. Feroce
3 Short Obsessions: No. 3. Interlude
An Arch Never Sleeps
Palimpsest
Dr. Johnson and Mr. Savage: Pantomime
All'arme
Hopeful Monsters

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