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Thursday, August 15, 2013

Fleeting Visions, Collaborations II, New American Chamber Music

The contemporary classical scene is one where many new recordings are not pressed in large quantities for the obvious reasons. There is a steady following of listeners but this is not music for the bulk sales some pop artists may expect. So any given modern classical release may not be readily available forever. Quantities are gone at some point and it could be some time before a repressing is forthcoming. That occurs to me as I write up my review notes for a chamber music anthology of eight works by seven composers, I believe all US-based--by residence if not by birth.

Fleeting Visions, Collaborations II (Beauport Classical 1804) came out in 2008 and certainly qualifies as one of the less heralded, small-quantity but large-statured releases of recent years. Some of the composers are not well known to me, others I've appreciated for some time. All turn in worthwhile work here. We've covered the music of some of them on these pages, especially Hawaii-based John Carollo. There are works by Carollo, Arthur Gottschalk, James Scully, Allen Strange, Jamie Leigh Sampson, Jay C. Batzner and two by John G. Bilotta.

The works are in the high-art new modernist zone, written for small ensembles and soloists in sometimes unusual combinations, such as flute and clarinet (Gottschalk, Bilotta), solo clarinet (Scully), solo bassoon (Sampson), solo trumpet (Batzner) solo soprano saxophone (Strange), flute and oboe (Bilotta) and guitar and violin (Carollo). These are distinctively written, well-played works that go beyond the strictly serialist mentality into a less structurally rigorous but more expressive and personal mode. Some of the music is abstract and angular (Carollo, Bilotta) others more referential (Strange's Laurel and Hardy tribute), but all worth hearing.

I am glad to have this one. The music is good, the instrumentation ever-shifting, and the overall thrust artful. It will definitely appeal to those who enjoy the more intimate and unusual chamber lineups playing shorter works of a thoroughgoing individuality. Grab a copy now while you can.

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