Music and Vision homepage Classical Music Programme Notes for concerts and recordings, by Malcolm Miller

 

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Aaron Rabushka

a portrait by
JENNIFER PAULL

 

'I dream my painting, and then I paint my dream' -- Vincent van Gogh, artist (1853-1890)

Aaron Rabushka (born St Louis, MO, USA, 1 July 1958) is a very good composer. There is something about his music that evokes a counterpoint of simultaneous dimensions: a mixture of time and place settings as much as an interlacing of skilful orchestration and craftsmanship.

Aaron Rabushka at a restaurant near Budapest with a postcard of a painting by the Hungarian artist Tivadar Csontváry Kosztka (1853-1919) in his pocket. Photo: Jane Schlansker
Aaron Rabushka at a restaurant near Budapest with a postcard of a painting by the Hungarian artist Tivadar Csontváry Kosztka (1853-1919) in his pocket.
Photo: Jane Schlansker

The first of his compositions I heard, was his Concerto Vocale: Salmo 126 (1993). It is recorded in the Vienna Modern Masters Music from Six Continents, 2000 Series (VMM 3050). To say that this music touched me deeply would be an understatement. Not since John McCabe's Notturni ed Alba, have I been as personally moved by an orchestral Song Cycle. The scoring is narrower than the McCabe -- no Japanese wind chimes in sight. However, the percussion Rabushka employs in his economic, yet most effective scoring is just as moving.

The entire piece has a ghost of Britten's Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings in the clarity of its orchestration, contrasting density and transparency. A flute and violin rise above the strings as soloists, underlining the sense of the words. These are superbly interpreted in Aramaic, by Barbara Pietrzak, a really outstanding soprano. Her timbre and finesse, her 'effortless' pronunciation and skill are combined with beautiful phrasing: the hallmarks of a really exceptional singer.

The Concerto Vocale is based upon Psalm 126, which, in Rabushka's own words is 'a dreaming and powerful poem that looks to past and future happiness from a not-so-happy present.' The Aramaic is included in the CD booklet together with the Contemporary English translation of the Psalm.

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Copyright © 7 July 2002 Jennifer Paull, Vouvry, Switzerland

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A REVIEW OF THE 'MUSIC FROM SIX CONTINENTS' CDS

AARON RABUSHKA'S WEBSITE

JENNIFER PAULL'S WEBSITE

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