Fred Sherry, cello
Curtis Macomber, violin
James Winn, piano
The New York New Music Ensemble: Jayn Rosenfeld, flute; Jean Kopperud, clarinet; Linda Quan, violin; Christopher Finckel, cello; James Winn, piano; Jeffrey Milarsky, conductor
The Washington Square Contemporary Music Society: Jayn Rosenfeld, flute; Brian Greene, oboe; Jean Kopperud, clarinet; Daniel Druckman, percussion; James Winn, piano; Deborah Wong, violin; Lois Martin, viola; Theodore Mook, cello; Andrea Cawelti, soprano; Bradley Lubman, conductor
“The dominant characteristic of Louis Karchin´s music is energy. Even in the very infrequent moments of repose, there is the obvious desire to be moving--building in the background, waiting for the moment to burst forth and sweep all before-- that recalls Beethoven. The comparison between the 42-year-old composer and the Viennese master is surprisingly apt in a number of ways. In addition to the sheer energy of his music, Karchin also possesses a striking melodic style that intrigues the ear even as the music is threatening to rush the listener off his or her metaphorical feet with its vivid and seductive use of instrumental color.
“The Beethoven connection is the most obvious in the Cello Sonata, which is modeled after Beethoven’s Third. Like its model, the work lacks a slow movement, using a Scherzo to bridge between a sonata-form first movement and a vigorous. extended Finale.”
I wasn’t familiar with Louis Karchin (b. Philadelphia, 1951), before sampling this disc, but his is a name I’ll remember. He writes in a highly modernist style, but the music is rarely so rigorous that it doesn’t smile or otherwise communicate. The Violoncello Sonata is especially impressive in its rhythmic panache, intensity, variety of attack and pacing. The same qualities are present in ‘Galactic Folds’ for a Pierrot Lunaire quintet---flute, clarinet, violin, cello, and piano. The mixed octet sonorities that accompany the angular vocal line on ‘Songs of Distance and Light’ are often both brazen and beautiful.
“Galactic Folds, for a mixed quintet using Schoenberg´s Pierrot Lunaire ensemble, is to my ears the real find of this disc. Twenty minutes of rushing, furious energy divided into two movements, the music never lets up for more than a few seconds in its forward rush. The miniature cadenzas for the winds in the first movement come as moments when the players are so full of life they must break forth from the ensemble. The Finale has a wonderful, clockwork fury that abates briefly for an ethereal interlude before the final rush to the finish.”
“One of the signal new music events of this admittedly young year….Over a 17-minute span, the Eastman-trained composer avoids most of the pitfalls of contemporary writing for the voice, as he envelops his setting of three poems within a chamber orchestra fabric of coruscating beauty. One feels his instinctive and profound reaction to Bishop´s imagery and rhythms….In Songs of Distance and Light, the musical line really does swell and flow and halt in deference to Bishop´s extraordinary poems. The exotic orchestration has that same canny voluptuousness of sound you will find in Ravel works for similar forces, yet the metallic urgency of the opening pages bespeaks a modern sensibility. Heroic struggle, acceptance of loss and refuge in memory seem the successive moods of the singer in the three poems.”
A kind of fearless eloquence in its gestures... Karchin is unafraid of cliches, such as diddledy-diddledy triplet ascents, when they can still serve a purpose, and his harmony moves powerfully. Fred Sherry, for whom the sonata was composed, and Alan Feinberg gave a cogent performance.
The Violoncello Sonata is especially impressive in its rhythmic panache, intensity, variety of attack and pacing.”