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Transforming experiences in chamber music
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Monday, January 11, 2010

Listening Room – Volume 2

Despite “best laid plans” it’s taken me nearly 2 months to return to this blog after my first post. Ah, my apologies! Let’s see if we can do better in the New Year.

I’ve just begun my annual systematic cycle through the chamber music recordings on the Naxos online music library. The library contains a tremendous wealth of material and is a great place to discover new works and revisit old favorites – a very “Chameleon” way of listening!

Today’s docket included works by the esteemed American composer Samuel Adler (Albany Records: TROY582). I must admit that was not at all familiar with his music. At first listen, his textures are intriguing and I look forward to devoting some considered time to his large catalogue in the future. The first piece I chose today was “Rocking Horse Winner,” on texts of D.H. Lawrence for soprano, oboe, cello, and piano. Although I enjoyed sections of this brief work, I felt it lacked a cohesiveness from beginning to end and it lost my interest halfway through. The same cannot be said for his Viola Sonata written in 1984. The Sonata is a superb work, flowing, muscular and haunting, and stood up to two consecutive listenings.

Anton Arensky’s Piano Quintet, Op. 51 provided a refreshing change of pace (Marco Polo: 8.223811). I dearly love this piece and have been searching for several years for just the right spot on a Chameleon program, with no success. It’s performed less often than his Piano Trio No. 1 in d minor, but for me, it’s a much more affecting work, and positively joyous. Today, it sounded like a little breath of spring and was a much needed relief to January’s cold winds.

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