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Thursday, January 8, 2015

Trio Verlaine, Six Departures

The trio of harp, flute and viola has a sound all its own. Debussy definitively produced the impressionistic reference masterpiece, his "Sonata for Flute, Viola and Harp" in 1915. Trio Verlaine gives us four modern works that extend that sonic lyricism on Six Departures (Ravello 7895).

These are played with care and enthusiasm by the trio, which consists of Lorna McGhee on flute, David Harding, viola, and Heidi Krutzen on harp. Two of the four works are first recordings and owe their existence through commissions on behalf of or directly by the trio. They are the late Jeffery Cotton's "Six Departures" and R. Murray Schafer's "Trio for Flute, Viola and Harp." The program is rounded out by composers of the 20th century in Sir Arnold Bax's "Elegiac Trio" and Andre Jolivet's "Petite Suite."

What perhaps is most remarkable is how smoothly the four compositions flow together in the program. All have the pastoral impressionistic liquidity that Debussy established as a bellwether for the instrumental configuration. They all follow in the path with their own integrity of thematic presence, yet all are part of the lineage and belong well together.

The Schafer work perhaps is the most modern-sounding of the four, but really all of the works have a sort of timelessness born of the instrumentation's haunting brilliance of sound, especially in the hands of so capable artists as Trio Verlaine. They sparkle with carefully balanced and meticulously phrased lyricism and so bring out the highlights and contrasts of these fine works.

Anyone who responds to the ravishing beauty of a fair morning in early spring will respond to this CD. It is an experience to warm your insides on a cold day, or to affirm the natural world when it is blooming and buzzing. Very recommended.

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