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Friday, March 27, 2015

Howard Hersh, Angels and Watermarks

Once again, the happy happenstance of my visibility as a critic-reviewer has allowed me access to a new voice on the compositional scene that I would probably not have been exposed to otherwise. Today it is Howard Hersh and his music for piano and chamber orchestra and solo harpsichord, Angels and Watermarks (self-released).

The keyboard soloist is Brenda Tom, who sounds quite excellent in the central role here.

The "Concerto for Piano and Ten Instruments" in three movements opens the program. It has a post-romantic, post-modern piano part filled with motion and unexpected tonal twists and turns. The chamber orchestra parts surrounding the solo statements are well conceived and work together to create a very lively post-modern, post-minimal synchrony that features trading off of motival elements throughout. The piano part has real grit and the entire work has very memorable melodic dash. The performance is sturdy with Ms. Tom leading the way definitively and the chamber ensemble giving us a fine idea of the total sound at hand in the work.

From there we go to two works for solo harpsichord, "Angels and Watermarks," a five movement suite, and "Dream," the ten minute closer.

Both give us a more intimate side of the composer, music that sounds well on the harpsichord, music with neo-classic/vernacular contemporary flourish. The music is inventive and modern yet hearkens back to a time when the harpsichord was a central fixture of a musical world much as the piano was for the years of the salon and beyond.

None of this music is cliche, all sounds fresh. Maestro Hersh adds a distinctive turn to all the music heard here. He is an original and without at all taxing the listener gives us something to follow with pleasure. I look forward to more from him!


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