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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Ferdinando De Sena, Spaulding's Bounce and Other Chamber Works

Miami-based New-York born composer Ferdinando De Sena provides us with eight dynamic and lively works on the recent Spalding's Bounce and Other Chamber Works (Navona 6052). This is music of a most modern sort, with vividly contrapuntal writing, rhythmically alive forms and a feel for original melodic contours that stand out.

There is a multitude of small chamber combinations in the compositions, tenor-sax-cello-piano, flute-guitar, violin-clarinet-piano, flute-viola, violin-harp, flute-alto-sax, mandolin and mandola-guitar, and an electronic piece with chamber voicings. They all show a vibrant grasp of idiomatic scoring for the instruments in tandem.

There are jazz and rock inflected aspects, not modelling Frank Zappa but with an analogistically eclectic grasp that moves the music forward. There are neo-classic moments and a commitment to modern syntactical ease of expression with a sort of pre- or post-serialist horizontal naturalness. The rhythmic vitally of the parts working together give the novice listener a firm anchor point that I believe will help make this music accessible to a larger than average audience. But there is plenty of intrinsic brilliance and complexity so that one can grow into a deep appreciation of the music with a bit of effort.

In sum this is chamber music that stands out as eloquent and extraordinarily well-crafted. The performances are excellent.

I find a great deal here to like. I think you the modernist would feel similarly. De Sena is an original. Give this one your ears, by all means.

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