A composer born in Siberia might find a strong inclination towards Russian
culture: in the case of Aaron Avshalomoff (1895-1964), feelings were powerfully
motivated towards Chinese traditions, which led to his resolve to live in
China for the purpose of both studying Chinese classical music and evolving
a personal synthesis as a basis for his own music. Subsequent periods in
America gave him little reward for his efforts towards recognition as a
am not a little surprised at Avshalomoff's dispiriting experience. His music
is fluent and flows from a mind that is naturally creative. But weighing
heavily is the pentatonic bias, especially in the Symphony [click
for music], as the classical elements of this structure struggle in
vain. Much to be preferred is the Flute Concerto, especially the final dance
and its tuneful scampers. [Click for music.]
I feel - admittedly on limited experience - that a determination on the
part of the composer to communicate his passion for Chinese traditional
music led to a vain attempt to dress it in the multi-coloured array of
a modern European orchestra, thereby depriving it the qualities that are
endemic. To make matters worse, second-rate film scores of pre-war Hollywood
were awash in Eastern promise and tainted the whole area. Avshalomoff was
a good composer getting too close to the fire.
This CD appears to be the first of a series. Maybe some other treasures
are yet to be revealed.
Copyright © Basil Ramsey, October
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