Thursday, October 2, 2014

Eric Ewazen - Music for the soloists of the American Brass Quintet and Friends

Eric Ewazen is another of my favorite American composers. His output includes gorgeous orchestral, piano, vocal, chamber, and many other works. The reason I'm posting this disc first is 2-fold; this is the first Ewazen cd I bought years ago-and then...well I cannot find all my others at the moment ha. This is a fine intro though to his sound world, for brass and chamber music anyhow. Ewazen has favored brass and wind instruments in many of his compositions, and it is with those forces especially that I am somewhat reminded, at times, of the music of my late friend Arnold Rosner. Ewazen exhibits a unique style, perhaps tinged with the spirit of Copland, Rosner as I mentioned or say Creston. 

The bracing "Fantasia for Seven Trumpets" is a sonic tour de force with fanfares that blossom like fireworks; I feel as if there's a major event taking place that corresponds to the music every time I listen. Next is the "Sonata for Trumpet and Piano", which I prefer. It is a mostly lyrical affair, and a substantial work, running about 20 minutes and packed with wonderful melodic lines, folk-like passages (the 1st and 2nd movements) and a restless, driving rondo (3rd movement) that is heroic and uplifting. "A Western Fanfare" is a short but popular work, a favorite among brass musicians and is joyful and especially "American" in spirit. The "Sonata for Trombone and Piano" is another substantial work, energetic and playful (although the 2nd movement is melancholy) and once again is a rondo 3rd movement that keeps things skitterish. 

The "Ballade, Pastorale and Dance" for flute, french horn and piano uses the simplest melodic and harmonic elements, but Ewazen's skillful manipulation of the materials makes their simplicity quite engaging and intriguing. It is my favorite piece on the disc. Especially the exuberant finale (Dance), which really displays Ewazen's gift for writing chamber music.

1. Fantasia - Ray Mase/David Krauss/Peter Bond/Robert Sullivan/Mark Gould/Kevin Finamore/Chris Gekker
2. Sonata for Trumpet & Piano: I. Lento-Allegro Molto - Chris Gekker/Eric Ewazen
3. Sonata for Trumpet & Piano: II. Allegretto - Chris Gekker/Eric Ewazen
4. Sonata for Trumpet & Piano: III. Allegro Con Fuoco - Chris Gekker/Eric Ewazen
5. A Western Fanfare - The American Brass Qnt
6. Sonata for Trombone & Piano: I. Allegro Maestoso - Micahel Powell/Eric Ewazen
7. Sonata for Trombone & Piano: II. Adagio - Micahel Powell/Eric Ewazen
8. Sonata for Trombone & Piano: III. Allegro Giocoso - Micahel Powell/Eric Ewazen
9. Ballade, Pastorale And Dance: I. Ballade - Barli Nugent/David Wakefield/Eric Ewazen
10. Ballade, Pastorale And Dance: II. Pastorale - Barli Nugent/David Wakefield/Eric Ewazen
11. Ballade, Pastorale And Dance: III. Dance - Barli Nugent/David Wakefield/Eric Ewazen



cjvinthechair said...

Agree with you about Ewazen, so even though I scarcely ever appreciate anything chamber-sized & below, I hope this may be an exception; thank you !

Anonymous said...


It just happens that I like Ewazen too, I kinda went through Ewazen period...:) the same time as with Hovhaness and Harrison. I do not listen to them as much as before, but one in a while they I enjoy them.

I do not think Ewazen is well known outside US, which is a shame, since his music is one of many facets of contemporary American music scene.


Tzadik said...

Hi cjvjinthechair, well I hope you enjoy the chamber Ewazen :) His orchestral music is really very nice. I have most of it...somewhere!

Tzadik said...

Hi Piterets. Yes it is a shame that Ewazen isn't known outside the US really; many composers still fall into that otherwise "obscure" category worldwide. -How well do you know Hovhaness's music? Are you familiar with most of his output? There's a lot to explore.. Tz