a portrait by
'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
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.
Copyright © 7 July 2002
Jennifer Paull, Vouvry, Switzerland
A REVIEW OF THE 'MUSIC FROM SIX CONTINENTS' CDS
AARON RABUSHKA'S WEBSITE
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