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Mission impossible

KEITH BRAMICH listens to
contemporary chamber music by Mark Warhol

Innova    innova 570

Où et Fleuri Rose? et autres aventures. © 2002 American Composers Forum

There's something surreal and comical about the presentation of this CD -- the pink toy bear striding along the wooden track, crazy titles, and the nonchalant-looking flautist and composer, pictured as they read a newspaper and drink tea. It doesn't quite match what I hear in the sparse, modern-sounding Crazy Rabbit Songs. American composer Mark Warhol (born 1949) was attracted to what he calls the 'in-your-face craziness' of the writing of Hardy Coleman, and it could be that Warhol has set himself something of a 'mission impossible' in translating these to the musical realm.

I can imagine the expressive and mysterious Où est Fleuri Rose? [listen -- track 5, 0:00-1:00] (especially when performed with mime or narration) working well with children, intrigued by the adventures of a pink bear, thrown away by its owner's parent and rescued from rats in the trash by a stray dog. For me, of the music on this disc, these seven short pieces are the most effective.

The final work, Voyage of the HMS Beagle, for soprano, baritone and flute, sets the writings of Charles Darwin, and is inspired by the thought that Darwin, Freud and Marx may well have been more influential because they were good writers. Warhol creates an interesting theatrical chamber work by setting words from Diary of the Beagle and The Origin of Species.

Flautist Catherine Issalys, the CD's raison d'être, gives consistently good performances, as do her various colleagues.

Copyright © 10 May 2003 Keith Bramich, Worcestershire, UK


Où est Fleuri Rose? et autres aventures

innova 570 DDD Stereo NEW RELEASE 55'11" 2002 American Composers Forum

Catherine Issalys, flute; Norah Long, soprano; John Jensen, piano and harpsichord; Krystal Banfield, soprano; David Harris, baritone

Mark Warhol: Crazy Rabbit Songs (1998) for soprano, flute and piano; Où est Fleuri Rose? (1999) for flute and harpsichord; Voyage of the HMS Beagle (1999) for soprano, baritone and flute



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Record Box is Music & Vision's regular Saturday series of shorter CD reviews