Search This Blog

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Elements Rising, Modern Works for Chamber Ensemble, Various Artists

Modernism lives. It may not be the only game in town these days but it continues to evolve and consolidate in various ways, with various composers vibrantly active and good works coming to our attention every month. We get interesting examples of new music in the chamber mode today on the recent anthology Elements Rising, Modern Works for Chamber Ensemble (Navona 5990).

On it we hear six varied works by five composers who may not be familiar to you unless you are thoroughly immersed in Navona releases. Each has something to offer and does so with lively performances. All have in common a post-Darmstadtian modernism in gesture and a wider tonal palette for the most part.

Yves Ramette starts off the program with "Introduction et Allegro" for flute, oboe, Bb clarinet, bassoon and piano. It is a worthy example of small chamber ensemble writing today, very sonorically stimulating and gesturally dynamic. From there we go on to Steven Block's "Fire Tiger" for violin and piano, Rain Worthington's "Night Stream" for two violins, and "Rhythm Modes" for string quartet, all very worth hearing.

Paula Diehl's "Gambit" as played by the Moravian Philharmonic Chamber Players under Petr Vronsky has the largest and most sonorically distinct aura in part because of the forces involved. It stands out for that reason and gives the ear a refreshing change. At the same time it has an ambience and sound color that set it apart regardless of its juxtaposition.

Allen Brings closes off the program with his "Duo for Violin and Cello," a study in shifting thematic elements with rhythmic insistency, a memorable conclusion to an excellent disk.

In the end we get a judicious assortment of extremely well-crafted works that show in each case the hand of an original voice, each rooted in the modernist heritage yet tackling the varied instrumentation with a skilled sense of what will sound well with the instruments at hand. We get folk elements now and then and rhythmic approaches that range from a jagged event-sounding approach to a more symmetrical regularity. A timbral openness and refreshing approach to form applies in various ways to all the compositions included in the set.

It is music with complexities that must be digested over time. With a little ear work you are rewarded with six windows that open each to its own universe of sound and structure. In the end the experience is filled with much to appreciate and ponder.

Highly recommended.

No comments:

Post a Comment