Elizabeth Farnum, soprano Dominic Inferrera, baritone
Stephen Gosling, piano
The Washington Square Ensemble: Jayn Rosenfeld, flute; Jean Kopperud, clarinet; Pablo Rieppi, percussion; Stephen Gosling, piano; Curtis Macomber, violin; Dorothy Lawson, cello; Louis Karchin, conductor
Louis Karchin, a professor of music at NYU, is one of the few who has managed a compromise between the avant-garde of the 1960s and 70s and the neo-romanticism of the current era. Yet the ecstatic paganism of ‘To the Sun’ and the coruscating colors of Orpheus do not sound like mushy, middle-ground compromises. Rather, they project a strong, confident personality. The harp, wind, and percussion colors of Orpheus, the most ambitious piece here, are beguiling and inviting; the vocal lines in ‘Memory’, ‘Deux Poèmes de Mallarmé’, and ‘To the Sun’ chart a Bergian course between lyricism and atonality. In general one feels a strong underlying tonal center, though it comes and goes. The most charming song, ‘Carmen de Boheme’, is an affectionate homage to Bizet’s Habanera; here too the style recalls Berg in its incorporation of popular rhythms and motifs into complex harmonic structures.
Dominic Inferrera and Elizabeth Farnum are the astute, sensitive singers; the Washington Square Contemporary Music Society Players make elegant, shimmering sounds in Orpheus. The Performing Arts Center at SUNY Purchase, a superb recording venue, shows these artists off to maximum advantage.