Monday, April 27, 2015

The Light Wraps You: New Music for Oboe - Phillip Bimstein - Rodney Rogers - Bill Douglas - James Macmillan - Andrea Clearfield - Fulvio Caldini - Michelle Fiala, Oboe - MSR Classics 2007

Here's a nice little gem from MSR classics, all contemporary works featuring the oboe. I bought this disc specifically for the piece by Phillip Bimstein-I was so very taken by the first work I had discovered by this composer, "Half Moon at Checkerboard Mesa" (Fantasy for Oboe, Frogs, Crickets, and Coyotes) which is extremely quirky, charming, and really really good fun. It contains other recorded sounds taken around the area where the composer lives, including rushing water and thunder...a nature poem indeed! It can be found here: 

The Bimstein work on this disc is every bit as lyrical, humorous and intriguing and really like nothing else you have heard except for....Bimstein's other eccentric works of course! It's called "Cats in the Kitchen for Flute, Oboe plus the Kitchen "Sync". Yes, there's lots of purring and meowing cats, playing cats, chattering cats...even the closely mic'd sounds of cats enjoying crunchy delicacies :)
Plus there's all kinds of other sounds that one expects to here coming from a kitchen, slicing toast, spoons, percussive pots and pans...the composer offered the full list below, which I typed out from the booklet notes. This is altogether a great collection, I enjoy just about every work on here highly.
So, on to the music and the notes (written by the composers themselves).

Literally the only back cover I could find..pointless really but this is what it "looks like"-especially if you are blind

This disc contains the first commercial recordings for oboe of these seven pieces.

Lessons of the Sky

The title Lessons of the Sky comes from the essay The Star Thrower by Loren Eiseley (found in a collection of essays under the same title). For me, the sky represents that which is open and infinite. The title also refers to knowledge gained through observing the world around us—the endlessly varied designs that nature provides as building blocks for life.
The music is structured around a number of short motives that are continually varied and juxtaposed in an energetic manner. In contrast to this moto perpetuo, there are sudden shifts into a stable and undulating style based on isolated repeating figures. The surface rhythm remains fast during these stable sections, but the changes in harmony are much slower. The interplay of the oboe and piano—as they toss motives back and forth—adds another dimension to the basic alternation of quick rhythmic motives and slowly evolving repetitions. Occasionally the pianist stops a string with the left hand while playing the keyboard with the right hand to elicit an unexpected color from the piano. Toward the middle of the piece, a quiet section interrupts the momentum with static and introspective lines in both the oboe and piano. A single prepared piano note, functioning as a percussive punctuation in the fast sections, takes on a gong-like character in the slow portion of the work. The piece closes with a return of the fast music, beginning with the stable undulating figuration and then moving into the short motives. This loosely designed reverse order results in an arch-like shape for the whole composition.
-Rodney Rogers

Sonata for Oboe and Piano

This piece was written in 2004 for my good friend, the oboist Allan Vogel. The first and third movements follow the basic jazz form as described previously in the notes on the Trio. The second movement was influenced by British Isles folk music.
-Bill Douglas

Trio for Oboe, Bassoon and Piano

This piece was commissioned by the International Double Reed Society in July 2006 and was completed in November. The first and third movements follow the basic jazz form: a unison theme followed by an improvisation on the chord progression, then a return to the theme with variations. In this case, the improvisation sections are written out. Although these movements have been influenced by jazz (and the third movement was also influenced by African music), the players are instructed to “sing” expressively throughout, as though they were playing Mozart or Bach. The second movement is based on a scale commonly used in Spanish, North African, and Middle Eastern music. There is a middle, somewhat atonal section that retains the feeling of that scale.
-Bill Douglas

Three Songs for Oboe and Double Bass (after poems by Pablo Neruda)

Inspired by three sensual love poems of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, this set of musical tableaux was composed for Philadelphia Orchestra bassist, Robert Kesselman and his wife, oboist Jennifer Kuhns in 1996. Two years later, the work was arranged for violin and bass duo for bassist Edgar Meyer. In 2002, Manfred Fischbeck, artistic director of Group Motion Dance Company, choreographed the work for the Fringe Festival in Philadelphia.
-Andrea Clearfield

Cats in the Kitchen

I love cats and I'm fascinated by the sounds of the kitchen, so it was great fun to combine them both in this piece. “Cats in the Kitchen” is scored for flute, oboe, meows, purrs, cracked eggs, sliced onions, buttered toast, sizzling skillets, spoons, knives, pepper grinder, toaster oven, pots, pans, and draining dishwater – everything including the "kitchen sync!" The sound score also features feline duets and trios, cat food crunches, waterdrums, and my partner Charlotte speaking to her beloved cat, Fiona McGee, who sadly passed on shortly after this piece was completed. The flute and oboe playfully dance and weave with the sounds and each other, sometimes in imitation or dialogue with the cats, and at other times cooking up their own fanciful filigree. “Cats in the Kitchen” was commissioned for Michele Fiala and Heidi Pintner by Western Kentucky University,
through its Provost’s Initiatives for Excellence Fund, Potter College of Arts and Letters, and Faculty Scholarship Council.
-Phillip Bimstein

Track listing:

1)Rodney Rogers - Lessons of the Sky for Oboe & Piano (8:47) (Donal Speer, piano)

Bill Douglas - Sonata for Oboe & Piano (10:53) (Bill Douglas, piano)

2)Cantabile (4:11)
3)Expansive (3:24)
4)Singing, playful (3:18)

5)James Macmillan - Intercession for Three Oboes (6:23) (w. Joseph Salvalagggio, Martin Schuring)

Bill Douglas - Trio for Oboe, Bassoon & Piano (14:12) (Frank Morelli, bassoon, Bill Douglas, piano)

6)Bebob cantabile (4:19)
7)Lament (5:43)
8)Rondo con brio (4:10)

Andrea Clearfield - Three Songs for Oboe & Double Bass (after Poems by Pablo Neruda) (6:44)

9)Body of a Woman (2:41)
10)The Light Wraps You (1:33)
11)Every Day You Play (2:30)                                            (Karl Olsen, double bass) 

12)Fulvio Caldini - Etude du reveil, Op.7/b for Oboe & Clarinet (3:30)

Phillip Bimstein - Cats in the Kitchen for Flute & Oboe plus the kitchen "Sync" (13:11)

13)Eggs & Toast (5:04)
14)O Sole Meow (2:58)
15)Where's Your Mouse, McGee? (5:09)                            (Heidi Pintner, flute)




bruce said...

What a great program. It will be interesting to hear, as I love the oboe sound, thanks Tzadik.

Colin said...

Interesting disc! The Bimstein work is a pleasure, never knew about this guy or music, I can't thank you enough :)

theblueamos said...

Loved this disc!have to listen to it again Thank you very much from Jerusalem.

Tzadik said...

Hi Bruce, thank you for commenting. Hope you enjoy this, it's an unusual program, and everything is really good too. The oboe playing is very fine. TZ

Tzadik said...

Hi Colin, thank you also for commenting. Comments mean a lot to me, especially as I often don't have time to post much these days, makes it that much more worth it to try to find the time! TZ

Tzadik said...

Hey blue! It's nice to hear from you as always. Very happy you like the disc that much..I do too :-) What do you think of the Bimstein piece?? TZ