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Friday, October 3, 2014

McCormick Percussion Group, Soli for Soprano with Percussion Orchestra, Matt Barber, Sekhon, Barraque

The McCormick Percussion Group match prolific activity with adventurous programming (type in the search box for previous posts). Their latest, Soli for Soprano with Percussion Orchestra (Ravello 7884) is no exception. There are three modern works represented, Jamie Jordon does a fine job in the soprano role, and Robert McCormick conducts.

The composers are a mix of newer, lesser-known figures and a more established historic one. Matt Barber comes through with "To the Roaring Wind", Baljinder Singh Sekhon II "Twelve Virtues" and Jean Barraque with "Chant Apres Chant".

All three works have the percussive dynamism one might expect, soprano parts both declamatory and lyrical and an appealing variety in the forward-looking modernist vein. Sekhon's work takes thorough advantage of pitched percussion for a harmonic exoticism along with rhythmic motility. The soprano part is alternately whimsical and dramatic. Barraque has the older, high-modernist flair with piano and bombastic percussion contrasts of tumbling irregularity with quieter spaces, musical color and a more through melodic quality in the soprano. Matt Barber gives us nine short movements with much orchestral-timbral contrasts and a soprano role that has a great deal of grit and substance to it.

There is nothing lacking here. The McCormick ensemble show once again a flexible discipline coupled with excellent attention to phrasing and structure. Jamie Jordan excels in her various roles with a pleasing ability to change her sound according to the demands of the music at any point.

Surely those with a love of modern vocal music, percussion and new sounds will find in this one much to like. The idea of a percussion orchestra capable of a wide variety of sectional and intermingled textures gets an ideal realization in the three works and their masterful execution.


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