Saturday, July 15, 2006

ambling summer days

I haven't posted much and I've meant to get around to writing about some cool albums I've come across in the last few years. One of the challenges of being into chamber music for the guitar is that albums get released with almost no fanfare or publicity and you have to go hunting on the internet, sometimes for a year or so, before you stumble upon a headline or search hit result that gets you what you've been looking for.

For instance the Schubert Club (and I don't even like Schubert's music all that much) out in Minnesota, I think, put out a CD by the Kachian/Klemp Duo called Falls Flyer. It's got a great album cover of what seems to be a slightly older couple sporting about on a fast little motor boat out on a lake. It looks more like the cover of a 1950s rock album than an album of chamber music for oboe and guitar. It's a sweet CD and a big selling point about it for me waz David Evan Thomas' Sonata for Oboe and Guitar. What's more all the works on the CD were written, commissioned, and performed within the last roughly ten years. It's hard to overstate how significant that is for "new" chamber music. The closest thing to a standard repertoire work for oboe and guitar so far is Napoleon Coste's La Montagnard and THAT piece was composed at least a century ago, if not more than a century ago.

And sometimes the CD is out of print and you don't find out about it for quite some time. Sad to say, though, not all CDs that get released of chamber music really seem that cool. I found a used CD of Giuseppe Gasperini's music for bassoon and guitar. It's a cool idea in principle and the actual sound of the bassoon and the guitar together is a great idea bu tthe music itself is so much aural wallpaper it's hard to suggest anyone dig this CD up as some lost and unjustly neglected treasure. Some CDs, it has to be said, sim ply deserve to go out of print.

Not to be totally unfair, Gasperini's music has a certain charm to it if you don't feel like concentrating on the music at all and there is a sense in which it must be more fun to play than to simply listen to. But Gasperini's output is simply not sturdy enough to constitute an entire album devoted just to his music in the way that Napoleon Coste's or Sor's music would be, is and does. Gasperini's music isn't even remotely close to being as substantial as work by Britten, Takemitsu, or Koshkin, or Brouwer. In fact I'd say it's better to pick up Michael Niccollela's Shard than get anything by Gasperini.

But, again, the IDEA of a CD of bassoon and guitar music rocks. And I'm starting to appreciate from the sheer tedium of Gasperini's work why so many musicians take a potpourri or buffet approach to repertoire. It's really, really hard to find a set of guitar pieces from just one com0oser or even one period that is so substantial you can make a program from it. And for those composers whose works reward a recital program all to themselves you've got the old canard of can you work up the chops to play the Bach suites for solo guitar? Can you play the solo partitas and sonatas? And then I'm back to the question of whether or not I couldn't go hear Hilary Hahn or another violinist playing the works? Personally I've got Zoltan Szekely's version on CD I found in a bargain bin.

But I got sidetracked. Go get Falls Flyer and check it out. The Kachian/Klemp Duo will appreciate it and Mr. Thomas will appreciate it. His sonata for oboe and guitar is quite possibly the beszt work for oboe and guitar I've ever heard. I'd write more about their neat CD but I've been trying to nail down part of a small choral cycle for men's chorus using texts from Ecclesiastes. And I also want to finish off part of a song cycle for soprano and guitar using texts by 20th century Aerican poets.