Paul Richards is a younger composer (b 1969) (younger than I am anyway) and judging by his CD Fables, Forms and Fears (Meyer Media MMO7008) one of the more accomplished and interesting of his generation.
The CD presents seven of his compositions, written between 1996 and 2003. They are each in their own way quite eventful and inventive. They range from solo pieces ("The Great Octopus," for solo guitar) to small chamber configurations ("Hypercube" for percussion and piano; "Cypriot Structures" and "Falling On Lobsters in the Dark" for violin, guitar and piano; "Rush Hour" for horn and piano; and "Asphalt Gypsy" for violin and guitar) to larger groupings ("A Butterfly Coughs in Africa" for clarinet choir).
In all of it we hear Richards's own brand of neo-classical modernism, tempered sometimes by the motor-impulsive qualities of minimalism, but sans the repetition. It is music that bears the stamp of very solid compositional craftsmanship but also the lucid spark of inspiration. You do not hear the moments of less-than-inspired passagework that you might in a lesser composer. The thematic material is engaging and the development of it filled with drama and musical logic.
The artists involved in these recording acquit themselves very well. There are some excellent performances all around. The Duo 46 configuration of Matthew Albert Gould on guitar and Beth Ilana Schneider-Gould on violin, with or without the addition of Nathanael May at the piano, gives character and well-executed dynamics to the pieces they grace. But everyone puts in sympathetic readings, from Kenneth L. Broadway on percussion and Paul Basler on horn to the piano work of Kevin R. Orr and the University of Florida Clarinet Choir.
This may have been out for a few years, but it's well worth tracking down if the music-as-described sounds interesting to you. It's a CD that does not stint on musical content, yet has much charm as well.
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