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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

New Chamber Works From Sunleif Rasmussen: "Dancing Raindrops"

Rigorously conceived modernism joins hands with visionary poetics in the chamber music of Sunleif Rasmussen, at least in his recent album Dancing Raindrops (Aldubaran) (dacapo 8.226567). The musical syntax is generally abstract, dialogic yet lyrical as well. The title piece "Dancing Raindrops" suggests of course a natural landscape with clarinet, violin and piano initially engaging in deceptively random yet interdependent interactions that become increasingly dense and lively, suggesting the natural rhythms of rain falling and periodicity-order within a naturaly chaotic state.

"Suite" (2007), a piece for guitar and effects processor, begins as a lively modern classical guitar piece, then enters into denser voicings that begin to be shaded by electronic alteration, until it becomes aetherial, almost harp-like. The music expands further to a kind of cosmic canopy of sound that is not unattractive.

The short flute duet, "Andalag #2," again suggests natural processes, mediated by a poetic sensibility.

"Like the Golden Sun" (1993), for piano and effect processor again begins with conventional acoustic soundings, this time in a pan-tonal, expressive-rhapsodic mode. There are cycles of relative agitation and repose, until a playful motif enters for piano and echo, followed by a dynamically integrated sound excursion for piano clusters and their electronic transformation. It's quite dramatic. The final movement introduces mystery with bell-like transformations of piano sounds.

The program concludes with "Mozaik/Miniature" (1999) for flute, clarinet, piano and violin. Its a very evocative piece with longer lines interacting with shorter contrapuntal punctuations in piano and winds. Again the techniques of modernism are utlized to poetic ends.

Sunleif Rasmussen has given us an intriguing look at his musical world on this album. It teases the listener with just enough of each sound universe to want more. As it is it is a most enchanted program that delights as it spins its various webs of delicate sound events. It will no doubt be appreciated by any enthusiast of modern chamber music and it sets expectations for longer works to come. Highly recommended.

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