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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Dan Roman, Musica de Palladium

Later incarnations of minimalism can tend to relax the strictures of continual ostinatos and nothing but. Puerto Rican composer Dan Roman combines repetition with through-composed elements and development very intriguingly on his album of chamber music, Musica de Palladium (Innova 904).

On the disk are five thoroughgoingly unformulaic, bright and attractive, finely crafted works of originality. Each features a typical small chamber instrumentation and each has an eclecticism that transcends the expected to keep you fascinated.

The title work "Musica de Palladium" uses violin, viola, cello, and piano, "La Machina Line" alto saxaphone and viola, "Retrospecto" cello and piano, "Fabulas" violin and piano, and "Passing Puntos" violin, cello and piano.

All of the works have rhythmic vitality, some reflecting Roman's Puerto Rican roots but also what you might call neo-classical elements and modernist touches. What's especially compelling to me about the music is how each element is thoroughly integrated into the whole so that there is a seamlessness. The music develops and unfolds inventively, bypassing the trance-like mesmerization of classic minimalism, often enough using the ostinatos as a classical element, only perhaps they have a greater importance here than in pre-minimalism but also that they continually shift to fit the arc of melodic thematics that he constructs so convincingly.

The performances are first-rate. They bring us the liveliness of expression with contemporary brio and zest.

This is music that should appeal to many for its mostly tonal lyricism. At the same time there is substance to all the works to exercise the ears of those careful listeners who seek more than congenial sounds.

Dan Roman has talent. You should give this one a careful listen if you want to hear where minimalism or post-minimalism is going these days.

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